The Opioid Overdose Epidemic continues to surge



The Opioid Crisis surges as fentanyl continues to break records and leaves devastation in its wake.

Gabie McConnell, Staff Writer

Fentanyl overdoses in the U.S. have become the No. 1 cause of death between 18-45-year-olds. Data compiled from the CDC by Families Against Fentanyl (FAF) shows the “opioid crisis” is very real and right in front of us. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be deadly even in very small amounts, and other drugs, including heroin, meth and marijuana, can be laced with the dangerous drug. Fentanyl has seeped its way into nearly all of the illegal drug supply chains.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that in 2021, 75% of cocaine overdose deaths were mixed-use with fentanyl; the same goes for 50% of methamphetamine overdose deaths. The drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. That makes it so much more dangerous when it is laced, as people do not know what they are putting into their bodies and can overdose.

“Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 79,000 people between 18 and 45 years old — 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021 — died of fentanyl overdoses,” said FAF.

Compare that to the approximate 53,158 COVID-19 deaths between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 15, 2021, within the same age range of 18-45. Fentanyl has also killed more Americans than suicide and car accidents in 2020, according to FAF. 

“This is a national emergency. America’s young adults — thousands of unsuspecting Americans — are being poisoned,” James Rauh, founder of Families Against Fentanyl (FAF), said in a statement. “It is widely known that illicit fentanyl is driving the massive spike in drug-related deaths. A new approach to this catastrophe is needed.” 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Mexico and China are the primary sources for the circulation of fentanyl into the U.S. Fentanyl is relatively inexpensive due to the little amount it takes to produce a high, and very profitable to sell; two characteristics that have helped make it the widespread illegal drug it is today. These characteristics will continue to increase the problem unless there is a new approach to the crisis as Rauh said. 

Fentanyl facts according to Families Against Fentanyl 

  1. Drug overdose deaths reached a record high of 100,000 in 2021.
  2. Fentanyl fatally poisons one person every 8.57 minutes.
  3. Fentanyl deaths have nearly doubled since 2019.
  4. Fentanyl is tied to 64% of total drug fatalities.
  5. 175 people die from fentanyl poisoning every day in the U.S.