The numbers are staggering - but, sadly, not exactly surprising.
Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids killed more than 21,000 people in the United States last year – making the powerful painkillers the leading cause of overdose deaths in the country.
Almost 65,000 people died from heroin, cocaine and prescription painkillers last year in the U.S. – a 21 percent leap from 2015. The new data suggests synthetic opioids doubled their share of the previous year’s overdose toll.
The CDC also reports that opioid overdose deaths quadrupled from 8,050 in 1991 to 33,091 in 2015.
Fentanyl is said to be about 50 times more potent than morphine and 10 times more potent than heroin. The drug’s even deadlier cousin, carfentanil, has been associated with mass overdose outbreaks across the country.
Meanwhile, the body of research suggesting that cannabis could serve as an effective exit drug for opioid addicts - as well as an overall alternative to the powerful painkillers - continues to grow.
President Donald Trump called the overdose epidemic a national emergency in August, but has yet to make an official declaration of an emergency.
h/t BuzzFeed News