From 2010-2016, there were a total of 42,249 opioid-related deaths. Of those individuals, 19,413 were fentanyl-related. The number of deaths from fentanyl increased by more than 1,000% in that time frame. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to treat severe pain reliever. Most commonly prescribed to individuals with cancer or end-of-life palliative care. It is highly potent and only requires small amounts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
Researchers found that from 2011 to 2013 men and women had similar rates of death regarding the synthetic opioid. By 2016 the death rates for men was three times that of women. There were increases in all age groups with fentanyl-related deaths; however, the largest increase was among those aged 15 to 34. Additionally, there was an increase among individuals aged 15 to 24 years old of 94% between 2011 and 2016.
According to today’s stats, Americans are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. In 2017, there were 40,100 motor vehicle deaths compared to 70,000 drug overdoses. In the United States, opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths. The Journal of the American Medical Associationwarned about the lack of awareness, availability, contamination of illicit drugs, and variability of fentanyl could increase individuals’ risks. Furthermore, they stressed the need for education and training to first responders and clinicians.