Fentanyl Overdose Deaths Doubled From 2015 to 2016, Says CDC
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that at least 63,632 people died in 2016 drug an overdose related to drugs or alcohol. Most of those deaths (42,229) involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Overdoses caused by all drug categories increased from 2015, with the most significant spike seen among synthetic opioids. Fentanyl Overdose Deaths
According to the report, in 2016, there was 21% increase in the age-adjusted overdose death rate from 2015. The 19,413 fatalities that included a synthetic opioid such as fentanyl (and other than methadone) reflected an increase of 100%. Behind synthetic opioids, the largest increase (52%) was seen among cocaine users (10,375.)
From the report:
“The ongoing and worsening drug overdose epidemic requires immediate attention and action. Faster access to data collected is needed to understand emerging threats in local communities and to tailor response activities.”
Since the turn of the century, there have been more than 600,000 overdose fatalities in the United States, and 351,000 of those involved opioids. The authors noted the different trends in the epidemic: the first wave began in the mid-1990s and was due mostly to prescription painkillers. The next wave started around 2010 and was largely driven by heroin use. Since 2013, it’s been fentanyl and its analogs all the way.
Another problem is this – fentanyl is often combined with other drugs because it’s so potent (50 times more powerful than heroin) and inexpensive. It’s most commonly mixed with heroin but has also been manufactured into fake oxycodone, Xanax, or Vicodin pills and found in cocaine, meth, and other illicit drugs.
The report included specific data on drug fatalities from 31 states and Washington D.C. Twenty states saw increases in the death from a synthetic drug in 2015, and D.C. experienced an increase of nearly four-fold.
Another troubling fact – a study published last year posits that these reports still estimate the opioid death toll – after accounting for omissions on death certificates that leave out specific drugs, there may be nearly 25% more deaths from opioids between 2008-2014 than was previously believed.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology