Nationwide, these statistics show there were more than 72,360 drug overdose deaths in 2017, and of those deaths, 49,068 involved opioids. That's an increase from 2016, driven primarily by a continued surge in synthetic opioids, including fentanyl.
Each day in 2017, 134 Americans died because of this crisis.
The CDC estimates there are 200 drug overdose deaths every single day. That's one person every eight minutes. Think about that. Every eight minutes, someone's neighbor, friend or child dies of a drug overdose.
These statistics are devastating, but they don't define the West Virginia I know. The West Virginia I know is fighting back. We are combating this epidemic head on through a wide range of creative and innovative strategies. And the fight is being waged all across America.
That's because we understand that it is going to take a coordinated, all-hands-on-deck, community-focused effort to fight this epidemic. And while our local leaders are at the forefront of that fight, Congress is by no means taking a back seat. In Washington, D.C., we are doing what we can to support and strengthen those community-led efforts across the country.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I've worked hard to ensure the fiscal 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill includes increased funding to combat the opioid epidemic that is ravaging my state and so many others.
In fact, the current bill provides more than $3.7 billion for programs to battle opioid abuse through federal drug programs. That's a 1,275% increase over the past four years.
Equally as important, the Appropriations Committee has dedicated $1.5 billion for flexible state grants, and thanks to language I authored along with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), 15% of that dedicated funding goes to states with the highest opioid-related deaths. By targeting resources to where they're needed most, we can make our efforts to fight this epidemic more strategic and more effective.
In many of the other appropriations bills, we have worked to provide funding to address different aspects of the epidemic like education and job opportunities.
From healthcare to law enforcement, we are working to tackle the crisis from all angles.
In January, President Donald Trump signed the Interdict Act, legislation that will equip U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers with scanning devices and other technologies to detect synthetic opioids like fentanyl, protecting our communities from influxes of these deadly drugs.
As chair of the Appropriations Committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee, I will ensure the funding is there to implement this bill.
This federal government is playing its part, but we all know that it's local government and community leaders who know what works best for their cities and towns.
Take Wheeling, W.Va., for example. Folks in Wheeling are working to start a addiction treatment center for pregnant women. Meanwhile, a local pharmacy has started a scholarship program for people who have completed recovery programs to help jump-start their college education or career training.
These are the kinds of partnerships and local efforts that, when combined with federal support, will truly help us to tackle this crisis.
We owe it to our families, friends and neighbors to continue the fight.