NewsFentanyl crisis: u.s. sees first drop in overdose deaths since 2018

Fentanyl crisis: u.s. sees first drop in overdose deaths since 2018

It is estimated that in 2023, 107,543 people died in the United States due to drug overdoses.
It is estimated that in 2023, 107,543 people died in the United States due to drug overdoses.
Images source: © Getty Images | Gina Ferazzi

9:11 AM EDT, May 17, 2024

Over 100,000 people died in the United States last year due to drug overdoses. Among the causes, synthetic opioid fentanyl is a significant contributor. This substance is a hundred times stronger than morphine. Americans are working intensively on vaccines against fentanyl.

It is estimated that in 2023, 107,543 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, according to "The Guardian." The number is shocking but marks the first annual decrease since 2018, with a 3% reduction in overdoses. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), fentanyl is responsible for 74,000 deaths, and methamphetamine causes over 36,000 more deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over a million people have died from drug overdoses since 2001.

Despite the decrease, this marks the third consecutive year where the United States has recorded over 100,000 annual deaths, reports "The Washington Post." Since 2021, the federal administration has invested billions of dollars to provide Americans with access to proven therapies such as methadone, buprenorphine treatment, and naloxone, a drug used after fentanyl overdoses. Americans are also working on a vaccine against synthetic opioids.

In March, the weekly "Economist" wrote that every 14 months, more Americans die from fentanyl addiction than died in all wars that the United States has fought since 1945.

This is—as the British weekly explained—a dream substance for drug dealers, as its production does not require extensive cultivation of plants such as marijuana or coca. Pill production can occur in small, "home-based" and hard-to-detect labs, and smuggling and transport are exceptionally easy.

Chemicals that are fentanyl precursors are produced on a large scale in China, where the pharmaceutical industry is highly developed, and in India, where it is not strictly controlled. Mexican drug cartels import these substances and produce fentanyl in improvised labs. It is then sent to the USA, with most of this transport crossing through legal export routes.

Regularly, footage circulates on the internet showing American streets, where people affected by addiction to this synthetic opioid can be seen. Addicts often die on the streets.

Source: The Guardian, PAP

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