Statistics from the CDC show the United States had more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths from April 2020 to April 2021. This is an increase of 28% over the previous year.
Many of these overdose deaths were caused by a range of drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, and heroin. Fentanyl saw the highest increases, and many times it was mixed into other drugs.
Three-fourths of these deaths were related to opioid overdoses and fentanyl is now a factor in over 50% of all overdose deaths today.
When fentanyl first hit the streets, it was used to make other drugs more powerful so they could be sold in smaller quantities at increased profit margins.
In the beginning, most of the drug dealers and users were unaware the cocaine or heroin they were selling or buying had fentanyl mixed in. This lead to an increase in fentanyl overdoses as users were expecting to be taking straight cocaine, heroin, or meth, and were unprepared for the strong side effects.
The only way to know for certain is test every batch using fentanyl test strips, but those can be expensive and they can’t tell the strength of the drug.
Over time, everyone from dealers to users realized that fentanyl was the main ingredient that made these drugs coveted and a demand for fentanyl by itself was created.
It is unknown how many people may be addicted to fentanyl today, but many have called its widespread use the next wave of the opioid epidemic.
Narcan (Naloxone) has been used as an antidote for opioid and heroin overdoses, but because fentanyl is so much more powerful, it has proven to be ineffective for reviving many overdose victims.
The dangerous nature of fentanyl and its high potential for fatal overdose should be enough to scare many people to seek addiction treatment.