For the 12 months ending in May, more than 81,000 people died from an overdose. That is the highest number ever recorded during a 12-month period, scientists from the U.S. CDC said. … The primary driver behind the record-breaking numbers appeared to be the use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which increased 38.4%. Of 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data, 37 reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths. In 18 of these jurisdictions, the increase was greater than 50%. Ten Western states reported a more than 98% increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths, the researchers said.