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Fentanyl-related deaths nearly quadruple in five years

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the rate of deaths related to this drug in 2021 rose from 5.7 to 21.6 out of 100,000 people.

Fentanyl tablets.


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A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled that fentanyl-related deaths nearly quadrupled between 2016 and 2021. This drug, one of the most serious problems facing the nation, is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. In addition, there is a tendency to mix fentanyl with other illegal substances, which worsens its effects and can have fatal results.

The figures are worrisome. According to the report, if the rate of fentanyl overdose deaths (and other synthetic drugs) in 2016 was 5.7 per 100,000 people only five years later, the figure has nearly quadrupled and the current rate is 21.6 per 100,000.

These numbers worry health experts. Merianne Spencer, co-author of the report and a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told ABC News that "We are always hoping we won't see a rise in fentanyl deaths, but this really highlights that this is continuing to be the public health problem."

Because of this, many states have decided to implement measures against the fentanyl crisis. These include facilitating access to Narcan (the only treatment known to be effective against this drug) or decriminalizing fentanyl test strips so that they can at least be used as a means of preventing overdoses.

Methadone and cocaine use on the rise

Methadone and cocaine continue to be serious problems. According to Reuters, methadone-related overdose deaths have quadrupled while cocaine-related deaths doubled to a record high in 2020.

In contrast, the rate of oxycodone and heroin-related deaths declined, slightly, during the years analyzed in the report. The rate of oxycodone-related deaths lowered its rate from 2 out of 100,000 people in 2016 to 1.5 out of 100,000 in 2021 while the percentage of heroin deaths decreased from 4.9% per 100,000 population in 2016 to 2.9% in 2021.