Opioid Crisis Fueled Record Drug Deaths in 2017: CDC

Opioid Crisis Fueled Record Drug Deaths in 2017: CDC

A new, provisional study from the CDC says the opioid epidemic across the U.S. fueled a record number of deaths from drug overdoses in 2017. The death toll of 72,000 was at least 7 percent above the previous year and double that of a decade ago, topping peak-year deaths from car accidents, AIDS, and firearms.

Some causes of death may have been pending investigation, the CDC explained, so these released figures may not include all deaths that occurred and could be slightly higher.

The CDC's provisional report includes a detailed interactive map, which you can mouse over to compare statistics in each state from last year to this year.

Today's soaring drug overdose statistics now are being led by synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl and frequently changing fentanyl analogs, the CDC announced in July. Fatalities related to the traditional sources of opioids, such as heroin, prescription opioid painkillers and methadone, have actually declined.

As we reported recently, the fentanyl trend has continued throughout 2017 and into 2018, with fentanyl-related deaths being reported across the country.

Deadly powerful carfentanil

Carfentanil, the most potent fentanyl analog ever detected in the US, was reported "in an alarming number of deaths in some states," the CDC said last year. In 2016, Florida reported more than 500 carfentanil-involved deaths, while Ohio reported nearly 400 from July through December.

Interestingly, carfentanil is a registered pharmaceutical, used primarily to sedate large animals. If you've ever seen videos of wild animals like lions, tigers or elephants being brought down with a "tranquilizer dart," you've probably seen carfentanil at work. It's estimated to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine, whereas fentanyl itself is roughly 50 to 100 times more potent (and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin).

The increasing use of fentanyl and its analogs by drug dealers is well explained in the New York Times:

"Strong synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its analogues have become mixed into black-market supplies of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and the class of anti-anxiety medicines known as benzodiazepines. Unlike heroin, which is derived from poppy plants, fentanyl can be manufactured in a laboratory, and it is often easier to transport because it is more concentrated.
"Unexpected combinations of those drugs can overwhelm even experienced drug users. In some places, the type of synthetic drugs mixed into heroin changes often, increasing the risk for users. While the opioid epidemic was originally concentrated in rural, white populations, the death toll is becoming more widespread. The penetration of fentanyl into more heroin markets may explain recent increases in overdose deaths among older, urban black Americans; those who used heroin before the recent changes to the drug supply might be unprepared for the strength of the new mixtures."

Drug stats can be confusing

Keep in mind that the CDC's overdose death statistics are not just from opioids. They also include deaths involving other drugs, such as amphetamine-psychostimulants like cocaine, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, and many other psychoactive drugs of abuse.

Also, when it comes to naming the related drugs and drug types found, death statistics can get a little hazy and confusing. Many overdose deaths, and perhaps most, involve multiple drugs. And a death related to more than one drug might be included in each drug category.

"For example, a death that involved both heroin and fentanyl would be included in both the number of drug overdose deaths involving heroin and the number of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone," the CDC said.

So you can't just add up all the reported deaths from all the drugs and get an accurate number.

Meanwhile, however, we get the idea. There are a lot of drugs out there, and far too many people are dying because of them.

On the other hand, everyone involved in the field of treatment should remain steadfast, in spite of the continued bad news. Because there is good news, and it's this: Novus Medical Detox Centers has the technology to help people find their way back to a drug free life, and we are doing that every day! Call us at (855) 464-8550 to get started on your road to recovery today.

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