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Fentanyl overdose deaths tripled in recent years: CDC

A display of fentanyl and meth that was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Port of Entry is shown during a press conference, Jan. 31, 2019, in Nogales, Arizona. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)

(The Hill) — Drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl more than tripled from 2016 to 2021 in the United States, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new CDC data from the Vital Statistics Rapid Release Program showed that drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl jumped from 5.7 per 100,000 (standard population) in 2016 to 21.6 in 2021. Between 2020 and 2021, drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl jumped by about 24%.

Fentanyl-involved overdose deaths were the highest among drug-related deaths the CDC analyzed and included more deaths than methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone and heroin. Among the ages of 25 to 64, fentanyl also had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths.

The highest rate of drug overdose deaths in eight of the 10 regions in the United States in 2021 was also attributed to fentanyl. Region 8 and Region 10, which combined include Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, were the only two regions where the highest reported rate of drug overdose deaths was not attributed to fentanyl.

Overdose deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine also increased over the period, with the rate of cocaine-related deaths more than doubling and methamphetamine-related deaths quadrupling between 2016 and 2021. During this period, the CDC also said drug-related deaths for oxycodone decreased.

The CDC also noted that drug overdose deaths in men were higher than in women across all the drugs the agency looked at. The rate of fentanyl-related and methamphetamine-related deaths among men was each 2.6 times the rate for women.


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