Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is used medically to treat severe pain, such as in cancer patients or those undergoing surgery. However, it has also become a major drug problem due to its high potential for addiction and overdose.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, were responsible for 69.6% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2020. This marks a continued increase in the number of overdose deaths involving it in recent years. In 2010, it was involved in just 14.3% of all opioid overdose deaths.
One of the reasons for the rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is the practice of cutting it into other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. Drug dealers often add it to other drugs to increase their potency and profits. However, because it is so much more potent than other opioids, even a small amount can be deadly. This can lead to unintentional overdose deaths among individuals who may not even be aware that they are consuming it.
In addition to being mixed with other drugs, it is also available on the black market in its pure form. This has led to an increase in related deaths among individuals who may be seeking out the drug specifically. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the number of seizures by law enforcement increased by 68% between 2019 and 2020.
view 10 slides detailing the overdose deaths in relation to various types of other drugs
The rise in related deaths is a public health crisis that requires a comprehensive response. This includes efforts to address the underlying factors contributing to drug addiction, such as poverty, trauma, and mental illness. It also requires increased access to addiction treatment and harm reduction services, such as medication-assisted treatment and overdose prevention education.
In conclusion, the rise in related overdose deaths is a serious public health issue that requires urgent attention. The practice of cutting it into other drugs, combined with the availability of the drug on the black market, has led to a dramatic increase in overdose deaths in recent years. Addressing the problem requires a comprehensive response that includes prevention, treatment, and harm reduction efforts.