Deaths Due to Fentanyl Nearly Quadrupled in 5 Years



By Steven Reinberg 

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Might 3, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — Overdose deaths in the USA tied to the highly effective artificial opioid fentanyl soared 279% from 2016 to 2021, well being officers reported Wednesday.

With the nation reeling from continued drug overdose deaths, investigators sought to determine traits in drug-related fatalities involving the 5 mostly concerned opioids and stimulant medicine: fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and oxycodone.

In simply 5 years, deaths involving fentanyl — probably the most ceaselessly implicated substance — rose from 6 per 100,000 individuals to 22 per 100,000, in line with the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

“This continues to be a public well being concern in the USA that we should always preserve monitoring,” stated lead researcher Merianne Rose Spencer, a well being statistician at CDC’s Nationwide Middle for Well being Statistics.

The speed of overdose deaths involving methamphetamine and cocaine additionally elevated throughout that point interval, whereas deaths from heroin and oxycodone dropped off, Spencer’s group discovered.

“The report, like many others over the previous few years, highlights the devastation that fentanyl is wreaking on our nation as misplaced lives proceed to mount,” stated Pat Aussem, affiliate vp for client medical content material growth on the Partnership to Finish Habit.

Among the many younger, fentanyl and methamphetamine have been probably the most deadly. Dying charges have been highest amongst younger adults ages 25 to 44, with males extra affected than ladies. All races have been concerned, however Black Individuals and Native Individuals have been hit particularly onerous.

These chilling overdose deaths are pushed by a lot of elements, together with misuse of opioid prescription painkillers, and use of heroin and fentanyl, typically together with different substances, stated Aussem, who was not concerned with the research.

“Cocaine, meth, ecstasy and counterfeit capsules that resemble Adderall, Xanax and Percocet or different ache medicines could also be laced with fentanyl, leading to an overdose if the particular person utilizing the substance has no tolerance for it,” she stated.

“More and more, fentanyl is mixed with xylazine, an animal tranquilizer often known as ‘tranq,’ that may increase the chance of overdose and demise, Aussem added.

For the research, CDC researchers used information from the Nationwide Very important Statistics System. Among the many different findings:

  • Fentanyl was the main explanation for overdose demise amongst all ethnic and racial teams.
  • The speed of drug overdose deaths involving heroin decreased by almost 41%, though that wasn’t thought of important.
  • The speed of overdose deaths from oxycodone decreased by 21%.

Spencer stated that as a result of the CDC group used demise certificates information, it isn’t attainable to indicate whether or not overdose deaths from heroin, cocaine, oxycodone and methamphetamine additionally concerned fentanyl.

Spencer believes the rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is as a result of rising provide of the drug flooding into the nation. It is unlikely that this development shall be reversed anytime quickly as overdose deaths proceed to rise, she famous.

The newest tally from the CDC is over 107,000 individuals within the 12-month interval ending in August 2022, Aussem stated. “That is equal to a aircraft with almost 300 individuals aboard crashing on daily basis. We’d like a targeted, coordinated response embracing harm-reduction methods and evidence-based care we all know works,” she added.

Aussem stated problem accessing dependancy therapy and well being care contributes to drug overdose deaths, as do social and financial elements, akin to poverty and unemployment and the stigma surrounding dependancy.

What’s wanted now?

“To handle the overdose demise charges in the USA, a multifaceted method is critical, together with elevated screening for psychological well being and substance use well being points with better entry to high quality dependancy therapy,” Aussem stated.

Additionally, well being care professionals want extra coaching and should be extra prepared to deal with individuals with substance use issues, she famous.

Aussem added that hurt discount providers are important. These ought to embrace fentanyl and xylazine take a look at strips, needle and syringe trade packages, and overdose prevention schooling. Medicines for opioid dependancy akin to naloxone should be extra broadly obtainable as properly.

“Decreasing the stigma surrounding substance use issues can be wanted so individuals will speak about their issues and search therapy,” she stated. “Additionally, educating and equipping households to reply can result in higher outcomes. They’re typically the primary to witness the issue and may intervene to encourage safer use and/or connection to therapy.”

Utilizing take a look at strips that determine fentanyl earlier than somebody takes a drug that may be contaminated with it may be helpful, Aussem stated.

“Some states deal with fentanyl take a look at strips as drug paraphernalia, however they are often useful in saving lives,” she stated. “Xylazine take a look at strips can even be wanted as xylazine penetrates extra of the nation’s drug provide.”

The huge availability of the nasal spray naloxone (Narcan) is one other technique that may assist forestall overdose deaths, Aussem stated.

“The [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has authorized over-the-counter naloxone so anybody can get it and discover ways to use it,” she stated. “It could be splendid to have it in first assist kits in addition to available in colleges, workplaces and different locations the place individuals collect.”

As a result of many individuals overdose when alone, having a cellphone app like Canary or entry to providers just like the By no means Use Alone overdose prevention hotline (1-800-484-3731) might present assist when it’s critically wanted, Aussem added.

Secure injection facilities like these in New York Metropolis scale back the dangers of overdosing and in addition transmitting ailments like HIV and hepatitis, she stated.

“Middle personnel even have the chance to construct relationships, provide schooling and different oft-needed sources,” Aussem stated, which may result in safer substance use practices and connection to therapy.

The report was launched Might 3 from the CDC’s Nationwide Very important Statistics System.

Extra info

For extra on fentanyl, see the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.


SOURCES: Merianne Rose Spencer, MPH, well being statistician, Nationwide Middle for Well being Statistics, U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention; Pat Aussem, LPC, affiliate vp, Client Medical Content material Improvement, Partnership to Finish Habit; U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention report, Estimates of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Fentanyl, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Heroin, and Oxycodone: United States, 2021, Might 3, 2023