Most drug overdoses involve fentanyl, CDC finds

Most drug overdoses involve fentanyl, CDC finds
The synthetic opioid fentanyl was linked to nearly 29 percent of all overdoses in 2016, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - Fentanyl is the most commonly used drug involved in overdoses, beating out heroin as the deadliest drug in the United States.

The synthetic opioid fentanyl was linked to nearly 29 percent of all overdoses in 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

That means in 2016, 18,000 people died due to fentanyl overdoses.

The report says the rate of drug overdoses involving the drug that killed Prince rose by more than 100% each year between 2013 and 2016.

“Fentanyl is so deadly, in the geographic regions where it’s been flooding in, deaths soared like we’ve never seen before,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.

Overdoses caused by heroin, also an opioid, increased significantly over the six years studied, tripling between 2011 and 2016.

It was the second deadliest drug in 2016, contributing to almost 16,000 deaths or 25 percent of all overdoses.

While the emphasis of the drug overdose crisis has been on opioids, the CDC study found that cocaine-and methamphetamine-related deaths also increased in the same time frame.

From 2011 to 2016, cocaine was consistently the second or third most commonly used drug, while the rate of deaths involving methamphetamines tripled.

The study found illicit drugs like fentanyl and cocaine were the leading causes of unintentional overdoses, and prescription drugs were more likely to be involved in suicidal overdoses.

Most of the overdoses studied involved more than one drug.

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