Fentanyl-Related Deaths Skyrocket in US Amid Unprecedented Opioid Crisis
14:25 GMT 11.01.2023 (Updated: 17:24 GMT 11.01.2023)
Over the last several years, the United States has found itself facing an insidious enemy that cannot be simply obliterated by the might of the military or strangled with economic sanctions, and which keeps claiming the lives of US citizens at a steadily growing pace – a drug called fentanyl.
A synthetic opioid analgesic nearly a hundred times more powerful than morphine, fentanyl is approved for medical use in the United States since 1968. The drug, however, is also used recreationally and is sometimes even mixed with other narcotics such as cocaine or heroin.
The number of reported law enforcement encounters testing positive for fentanyl in the US started rapidly increasing around 2013 during the second term of President Barack Obama, with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) sounding the alarm in 2015 about a rise in overdose deaths involving fentanyl.
The CDC specifically noted that illicitly-made fentanyl played a considerable role in this increase in drug-related deaths.
With only 3,105 synthetic opioid overdose deaths reported in 2013, the number reached 36,359 in 2019, with 56,516 such deaths reported in 2020 and 70,601 in 2021.
US Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) even told media this January that 200 Americans die from fentanyl poisoning every day, adding that this drug claimed more US lives than the war in Vietnam. He went on to brand fentanyl as the "number one killer of young adults."
The overall number of general drug overdose deaths also skyrocketed in the United States, with 107,375 people dying in the country due to drug overdoses and drug poisonings in 2021.