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Fentanyl-Related Overdose Deaths in 2022

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In recent years, the rise of fentanyl-related overdose deaths has become a significant public health concern.In 2022, there were over 80,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, with fentanyl being involved. Unfortunately, the problem has only continued to worsen in 2023, with preliminary data indicating that fentanyl-related deaths have continued to rise. As such, it is essential to understand the dangers of fentanyl and take steps to prevent overdose deaths. In this blog, we will explore the latest statistics and trends related to fentanyl overdoses and discuss potential solutions to this growing problem.

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What Is Causing the Rise in Fentanyl Overdoses?

The rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths is a complex issue with various contributing factors. One significant factor is the increasing availability of fentanyl in the illegal drug market. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is much more potent than heroin and other opioids, making it highly sought after by drug users. Unfortunately, many drug dealers mix fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, without the user’s knowledge, resulting in unintentional overdoses.

Another factor contributing to the rise in fentanyl overdoses is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to disruptions in the drug supply chain, resulting in increased adulteration of street drugs with fentanyl. Additionally, social isolation, economic hardship, and mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic have led to increased drug use and higher overdose rates.

Which States Had the Highest Fentanyl Deaths in 2022?

While fentanyl overdoses have increased across the United States, certain states have been hit particularly hard. According to preliminary data from the CDC, some of the states with the highest fentanyl-related overdose death rates in 2022 include West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. In West Virginia, fentanyl was involved in over 90% of all drug overdose deaths in 2020, and the trend has continued into 2022. Ohio has also seen a sharp increase in fentanyl-related deaths, with preliminary data showing that more than half of all overdose deaths in the state involved fentanyl. Kentucky has also seen a significant rise in fentanyl deaths, with the state’s overdose death rate increasing by more than 50% from 2019 to 2020. These statistics highlight the urgent need for targeted interventions and increased resources to address the fentanyl epidemic in these states and across the country.

How & Why Is Fentanyl Making Its Way Into Commonly Used Drugs?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is much more potent than other opioids like heroin, making it an attractive drug for both users and dealers. Unfortunately, it is also very dangerous, and even a small amount of fentanyl can cause an overdose. One way fentanyl is making its way into commonly used drugs is through drug trafficking networks. Criminal organizations are increasingly producing and distributing fentanyl, often mixing it with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, without the user’s knowledge. This can result in unintentional overdose deaths, as users may not be aware of the potency or the presence of fentanyl in the drugs they are using.

Accidental Overdoses from Fentanyl

Accidental overdoses from fentanyl have become a significant public health concern in recent years. Fentanyl is much more potent than other opioids, and even a small amount can cause an overdose. Unfortunately, many individuals who use drugs may not be aware of the presence of fentanyl in their drugs, as it is often mixed in with other drugs without their knowledge. This can lead to unintentional overdoses, as users may take their usual dose of drugs, not realizing the increased potency due to the presence of fentanyl. Accidental overdoses from fentanyl can result in respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and death. As such, it is crucial to increase awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and take steps to prevent unintentional overdoses, such as increasing access to naloxone and other harm reduction services.

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How Often Is Fentanyl Fatal?

Fentanyl is a highly potent drug, and even a small amount can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, fentanyl was involved in more than 60% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States. In many cases, these overdoses are accidental and occur when individuals unknowingly consume fentanyl mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, or counterfeit prescription drugs. The risk of a fatal overdose from fentanyl increases significantly when the drug is used alone or in combination with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

How Is the Rise of Fentanyl Being Combatted?

The rise of fentanyl-related overdose deaths has prompted a coordinated effort among public health officials, law enforcement agencies, and community organizations to combat the crisis. One of the most significant strategies is increasing access to harm reduction services, such as naloxone distribution programs and syringe exchange programs. These services provide individuals with the resources and tools to reduce their risk of overdose and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Another critical strategy is expanding access to addiction treatment options, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapies. MAT uses medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while behavioral therapies help individuals address the underlying factors contributing to their addiction and develop coping skills.

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National Fentanyl Prevention & Awareness Day

National Fentanyl Prevention & Awareness Day is a day dedicated to increasing awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and preventing overdose deaths. The day is observed annually on August 31st and was established by the United States Senate in 2018. National Fentanyl Prevention & Awareness Day serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of the fentanyl epidemic and encourages individuals and organizations to take action to prevent fentanyl-related overdoses. On this day, various events and activities are organized to raise awareness about fentanyl, including educational campaigns, community outreach efforts, and advocacy initiatives. The day also honors the memory of those who have lost their lives to fentanyl overdoses and celebrates the resilience and strength of those in recovery. By increasing awareness and taking action, we can help prevent the spread of the fentanyl epidemic and save lives.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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