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Fentanyl Overdoses Become a Leading Cause of Death for 18 to 45-Year-Olds

In a harrowing update from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, fentanyl overdoses were found to be a leading cause of death for 18 to 45-year-olds in 2020. In the CDC data, as analyzed by Families Against Fentanyl, overdoses were listed to be a more common cause of death than suicide or COVID-19 in the young adult age group.

Fentanyl became a significant threat to the United States around 2011, when fatal overdoses were associated with a large number of deaths in the country. A powerful drug that is 100 times more potent than morphine, fentanyl is similar to heroin in nature, though even stronger and deadlier when used illicitly. Originally created to manage pain in terminal cancer patients, the drug is normally administered in the form of a patch, though when produced for illegal use, the substance can also take the form of a pill or tablet.

Heroin users often progress to fentanyl use—and often without knowing. Many drugs are now being laced with fentanyl and sold under the guise of being another substance, such as heroin and cocaine. Fentanyl-laced drugs have made headlines in recent times for contributing to the deaths of many Americans, including Texas Longhorns player Jake Ehlinger, who took a fatal dose of fentanyl-laced Xanax last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of Americans to face innumerable stressors in 2020 and into 2021, and as we now see the effects of pandemic-induced anxieties and depression, we see the uptick in overdoses set to continue. The National Center for Health Statistics recently reported that there have been nearly one million overdoses deaths since the onslaught of the opioid crisis, which began around 1999. That same report indicated a 49% increase in drug overdoses among 15 to 24-year-olds between 2019 and 2020.

The National Center for Health Statistics, which is a division of the CDC, estimates that official 2021 totals for drug overdoses may exceed 100,000. The agency previously reported a record-high number of overdoses in 2020, totaling 93,331 deaths.

Prior to 2020, overdoses had decreased for the first time in many years, indicating some signs of hope. As the country—and the world—raced to respond to the unprecedented, another epidemic of a different type and scope rose again. With millions in the US already familiar with the pain and suffering caused by addiction, the toll of COVID-19 added to an already difficult path for many struggling addicts and their families.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl appear to be driving the latest surge in overdose deaths, and as local governments and national agencies have warned, counterfeit prescription pills continue to be a major threat. In an announcement from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), officials stated that pills being laced with fentanyl were being distributed on a broad, national level, and that all Americans should take extreme caution.

The DEA also noted that social media applications, particularly Snapchat, are contributing to the sale of these counterfeit pills. Spending large amounts of time online and on their phones, teenagers and young adults are especially vulnerable to receiving counterfeit pills, which are scarily easy to purchase through different social networking sites.

As we turn the page on a new year, the statistics remind us that we are still very much in the fight against the opioid crisis, and that efforts and resources to help those who are struggling are needed more than ever before. In an age where we are facing unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty, it is crucial to check on those who have a history of drug misuse and to provide them with an environment where they can receive the help they need to recover.

If you or a loved one is struggling amid the opioid crisis, please reach out to RECO Intensive today at 844.955.3042.

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