Overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl continued to skyrocket following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the latest data released by the federal government. A report released earlier this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found staggering increases in fentanyl-related overdose deaths – mirroring data previously released at the state level.
The report (.pdf) – prepared by the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System – used death certificate records in the compilation of its data. According to the numbers, the rate of fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths across the nation increased by 279 percent over the five-year study period – from 5.7 per 100,000 citizens in 2016 to 21.6 per 100,000 in 2021.
That’s right … fentanyl deaths nearly quadrupled from 2016-2021.
Drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine and cocaine also increased over the same five-year stretch – with methamphetamine deaths more than quadrupling from 2.1 per 100,000 in 2016 to 9.6 per 100,000 in 2021 and cocaine overdose deaths more than doubling from 3.5 per 100,000 to 7.9 per 100,000.
Overdose deaths involving heroin and oxycodone declined modestly – signifying a shift in the drug manufacturing market.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is anywhere from 80-100 times stronger than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Developed for cancer patients – including terminally ill cancer patients – it is being produced in massive quantities by black market drug dealers because it dramatically enhances the potency and the addictiveness of a wide range of their more conventional offerings.
“Black market drug dealers are increasingly combining illicitly manufactured fentanyl with heroin, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamines – even marijuana – in the hopes of stretching out their supplies,” I observed last summer in addressing South Carolina’s worsening opioid epidemic. “This is similar to a process known as ‘cutting’ – in which drugs like cocaine are mixed with other substances (including laundry detergent, baking soda, procaine or lidocaine).”
Fentanyl overdose deaths were far more prevalent among males, according to the report.
“For drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl, the rate for males was 2.6 times the rate for females (31.3 compared with 11.9),” the report found.
Native Americans (33.1 per 100,000) and blacks (31.3 per 100,000) saw higher death rates than whites (24.6 per 100,000) and Hispanics (14.1 per 100,000). Among Asian Americans, the rate was only 2.3 per 100,000.
The release of the new data comes at a pivotal moment for this issue in the Palmetto State.
Chief Mark Keel of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has been urging state lawmakers to pass a trafficking statute for fentanyl – closing what many in the law enforcement community believe is a gaping, increasingly dangerous loophole in the Palmetto State’s narcotics laws.
A bill to do just that – H. 3503 – overwhelmingly cleared the S.C. House of Representatives in early February but has been stalled in the State Senate since then. On May 3, 2023, the bill was referred to a judiciary subcommittee chaired by S.C. Senate minority leader Brad Hutto. The legislation is expected to be taken up by the full Senate judiciary committee this coming Tuesday (May 9, 2023) at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
Count on this news outlet to keep our audience updated on its status …
THE REPORT ...
(Via: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.