According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fentanyl overdose has become the number one killer of Americans aged 18-45. Between 2020 and 2021, there were nearly 79,000 fentanyl overdose deaths in the United States. For the first time, this surpasses the historically leading rates of young adult deaths due to suicide, COVID-19, and car accidents.
Families Against Fentanyl analyzed US government sources and found 37,208 died in 2020 and 41,587 died in 2021. “These are numbers we have never seen before,” said Dr. Volkow, the director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse). “They leave behind friends, family and children, if they have children, so there are a lot of downstream consequences. This is a major challenge to our society.”
How Fentanyl Overdoses Happen
Fentanyl overdoses continue to rise at alarming rates every year. The rapid increase results from several factors. First, many people ingesting fentanyl are not aware of the presence of the drug. Drug dealers and manufacturers routinely lace fentanyl into all types of other narcotics, including fake prescription pills that mimic “legal” drugs like Xanax, Vicodin, oxycodone, et cetera. The second cause of increased deaths is the most dangerous: fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid that’s 50-100 times the strength of morphine. Opioids like fentanyl depress the central nervous system and cause users to completely cease breathing during an overdose.
Overdose events can be reversed with a life-saving application of Narcan (an opioid antagonist that all paramedics now carry), but many victims of fentanyl overdose are not so fortunate. Health authorities recommend that all active drug users keep Narcan on site in the event of an emergency.
Fentanyl Overdose Epidemic
To spread awareness of the severity of this epidemic, Families Against Fentanyl shared these alarming statistics of the yearly increase of fentanyl overdose deaths.
These charts show the severity of the fentanyl problem within the US. Since almost all illicit fentanyl is made outside of the US, Families Against Fentanyl has gone as far as to suggest that President Biden designate fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. It is likely that the overdose death toll will continue to rise as long as the drug continues to be trafficked into the US and laced into street drugs.
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