Dec. 17, 2020 – The primary driver behind the record-breaking numbers appeared to be the use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which increased 38.4%.
Of 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data, 37 reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths. In 18 of these jurisdictions, the increase was greater than 50%. Ten Western states reported a more than 98% increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths, the researchers said.
“We must continue to focus our efforts on prevention and treatment for opioid use disorder, including ready access to naloxone for all people who receive an opiate prescription,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
“Data indicates that this is one area where education about the proper use of naloxone can save lives. Families, significant others and relatives who have access to naloxone are able to intervene and save lives, before people become statistics,” said Glatter, who was not part of the study.
While opioid overdose deaths were skyrocketing, overdose deaths involving cocaine also increased by 26.5%. Based upon earlier research, these deaths are likely linked to co-use or contamination of cocaine with illicitly manufactured fentanyl or heroin. Meanwhile, overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased by 34.8%.