Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America
Fentanyl is now the drug most commonly used in drug overdose deaths, according to a new government report US .
Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that the rate of drug overdoses associated with the synthetic opioid shot up by around 113% each year between 2013 and 2016.
The number of total overdoses increased by 54% each year between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, there were 63,632 deaths from drug overdoses.
According to the report on Wednesday , fentanyl was involved in almost 29% of all deaths from overdose in 2016. In 2011, fentanyl was only involved in 4% of all deaths from drug addiction. At that time, oxycodone was the most commonly involved drug, accounting for 13% of all fatal drug overdoses.
From 2012 to 2015, heroin became the drug most frequently linked to overdose deaths. In 2011, the number of fatal overdoses for heroin was 4,571, or 11% of all deaths from drug use. In 2016, that number has more than tripled to 15,961 deaths, representing a quarter of all drug overdoses that year.
The authors of the new study also found that most overdoses involved more than one medication. In 2016, 2 out of 5 deaths from cocaine-related overdoses also involved fentanyl. Almost a third of the overdoses related to fentanyl also involved heroin. More than 20% of the fatal overdoses related to methamphetamine also involved heroin.
In 2016, more than 18,000 deaths due to overdose involved fentanyl and 16,000 deaths were due to heroin.
Although many experts have pointed to the overprescription of prescription painkillers as the root cause of the opioid crisis in the United States, they say it has evolved first to a heroin crisis and now to an epidemic of fentanyl.
In the period under review (2011-2016), the number of overdoses of methadone-containing drugs has been reduced.
But Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, warned about the possibility of interpreting these findings as the end of the problem of prescription drugs. Kolodny, who was not involved in the study, pointed to states like Oklahoma, where deaths from prescription opioid overdoses still outnumber deaths from heroin and fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is very deadly, in the geographical regions where it has been flooding, deaths have gone up like never before,” he said.
Much of the emphasis of the drug overdose crisis has been on opiates, but the rate and number of deaths related to cocaine and methamphetamine has also increased.
In the same span of six years, cocaine was consistently the second or third most used drug, and the death rate from methamphetamine overdoses tripled.
Cocaine-related deaths almost doubled between 2014 and 2016, from 5,892 to 11,316 deaths from overdoses.
The authors of the study used text analysis to evaluate death certificates for specific drug mentions. They found that the top 10 drugs in the six-year period were still the same and belonged to three classes of drugs:
– Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine and oxycodone
– Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam and diazepam
– Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines
The study found that illicit drugs such as fentanyl and heroin were the main causes of unintentional overdose, and that prescription drugs were more likely to be involved in suicide overdoses.
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