Despite efforts to control the opioid crisis, the number of deaths due to fentanyl overdose continues to grow exponentially.
A new report from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marked the beginning of the third wave of the opioid crisis in the United States. The first wave was prescription pain medication such as OxyContin while the second wave was heroin. Now, the third wave is in full swing and it is dominated by fentanyl.
According to the public health agency, the number of deaths associated with fentanyl overdose has doubled every year since 2013.
Fentanyl Overdose Death Toll
Researchers from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics reviewed data from 2011 to 2016. They found that there has been a steep increase in fentanyl overdose deaths in the United States.
In 2011, fentanyl was mentioned in about 1,600 drug overdose deaths. In 2013, it was mentioned in 1,919 deaths.
From there, the number of lives claimed by the misuse of the drug significantly soared. In 2015, fentanyl was mentioned in 8,251 deaths. By 2016, 18,335 drug overdose deaths or 29 percent of the total drug overdose deaths across the country have been linked to fentanyl.
The report also revealed that the number of women who died due to misuse of the drug has increased, but not as pronounced as the rate of overdose among men. Meanwhile, the overdoses involving fentanyl experienced a rise across all age groups but by 2014, younger adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have the highest death toll.
Increase In Overdose Due To Illegally Made Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid prescribed by healthcare providers to relieve severe pain typically caused by cancer and cancer treatment. It is said to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Misuse of fentanyl can slow down the heartbeat and stop breathing in less than a minute.
However, public health experts warned that the problem lies in the illicitly and illegally made substance that enter the United States. The amount of seized fentanyl increased nearly seven times from 2012 to 2014, according to the National Forensic Laboratory Information System.
Fentanyl is also being added in cocaine and methamphetamine, which means that people are not aware of the risk.