Fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths in the US more than tripled from 2016 to 2021, according to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to CDC data, the rate of fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths jumped from 5.7 per 100,000 individuals in 2016 to 21.6 in each 100,000 in 2021.
During the same period, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased more than fourfold, while cocaine-related overdose deaths more than doubled. In contrast, heroin and oxycodone deaths decreased. The CDC report highlights the importance of understanding different drug sources and modes of ingestion to guide treatment programs.
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Fentanyl responsible for almost 70,000 deaths in 2021
A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed the alarming rise in fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths in the US. In 2021, about 70,000 people died in the United States as a result of fentanyl-related opioid overdoses, a nearly fourfold rise over the previous five years. According to the analysis, by 2021, the powerful synthetic opioid would account for around two-thirds of all deaths caused by overdoses. According to the CDC, multiple substances can be documented on a single death certificate, and fentanyl is frequently discovered with others.
Understanding drug sources and modes of ingestion is critical
Experts suggest that specific information on the chemicals implicated in fatal overdoses is crucial for assessing the consequences of drug policy and guiding treatment programmes. Understanding distinct drug sources and ways of administration, such as prescribed tramadol vs. illicit fentanyl, might provide further details regarding who is using and the relative addiction and a fatal overdose potential. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is an artificial opioid designed to assist cancer patients manage extreme pain. It is 50 to 100 times more strong than morphine and is commonly administered as skin patches or lozenges. According to the CDC, the most recent incidents of fentanyl-related injury, overdose, and death in the United States are associated with illegally manufactured fentanyl.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and it is increasingly being mixed with other illegal substances, often fatally. According to the CDC report, the rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths was much greater than for other commonly used medications. In 2021, fentanyl was linked to around 22 deaths per 100,000 persons, more than twice the age-adjusted mortality rate from methamphetamine or cocaine overdoses, and more than seven times greater than heroin overdoses. In 2021, fentanyl was the single most commonly used narcotic in fatal overdoses across all age categories, races & ethnicities, and genders.
On May 2, the US Justice Department announced that a joint law enforcement operation had resulted in the arrest of 288 individuals, the seizure of 117 firearms, and the confiscation of more than $53 million in cash and crypto-currencies. The operation, named “Operation SpecTor,” was aimed at disrupting the trafficking of fentanyl and opioids on the dark web. The operation was conducted by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement team, which includes multiple government agencies such as the FBI, DEA, ATF, US Postal Inspectors, and Homeland Security.
Over 850 kilogrammes of drugs were seized, including 64 kilogrammes of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced opiates. According to the DOJ, this is the largest-ever operation targeting the trafficking of fentanyl and opioids on the dark web. The operation was conducted across the US, Europe, and South America.