Fatal fentanyl overdoses up 279% since 2016

More Americans are dying from fentanyl overdoses. Since 2016 alone, the death toll attributed to the drug has risen just shy of 300 percent, according to the CDC. 

The fentanyl overdose deaths were also found to disproportionately affect individuals who were American Indian or Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic Black individuals.

Deaths from methamphetamine overdoses have also climbed in the same time frame, but not to the same degree as fentanyl death increases, according to the agency's May 2023 report on the five most used opioids and stimulant drugs. For the two drugs, fentanyl and meth, overdose deaths were more common for individuals between the ages of 25 to 44.

Deaths attributed to heroin and oxycodone overdoses decreased by 40 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

For context, the CDC noted in its report that drug overdose deaths are only counted when a mention of the drug is listed "in the literal text of the death certificate." 

These statistics highlight a shift noted by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2019 largely from heroin to fentanyl in the opioid market. 

The market shift is one factor in decreasing heroin overdoses; the CDC points out others could be due to "fewer people initiating heroin" as well as "increased treatment provision for people using heroin and expansion of naloxone access." 

Overall, overdose deaths for men were found to be higher than women for all five drugs featured in the report: fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and oxycodone.

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