More than four times as many people died from a drug overdose than from a homicide in the first few months of 2021.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s typically approved to treat severe pain, like the kind caused by advanced stages of cancer. It is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and typically mixed with heroin to increase that drug’s strength.
The drug has been cited as a factor in more than half of all U.S. overdose deaths. Research suggests its usage has been increasing throughout the pandemic. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the use of synthetic opioids was listed as the cause of over 62,000 deaths, the most in decades.
Doctors are prescribing it less as a precaution, but the illegal manufacturing of the drug in places like China and Mexico has continued.