The Five U.S. Cities With the Highest Fentanyl Overdose Death Rate
The fentanyl overdose death rate in the U.S. increased by a staggering 60% between 2014-2016, and according to a new report by the Washington Post, the greatest spikes have been seen in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.
In 2014, fentanyl killed just under 600 people – still a huge number. But by last year, that number had jumped to nearly 4000. And that trend is unlikely to change when the numbers come in for 2017.
It’s a fact that East Coast cities have historically had higher drug overdose rates, but these new numbers highlight exactly how hard some areas are being hit. For example, Chicago experienced a 2,700% increase.
In 2012, nine people in Philadelphia died from fentanyl. That number rose 100 in 2014 and to around 400 in 2016. This year, officials say that fentanyl is causing an average of 100 overdose deaths per month in the city. In the state of Pennsylvania, 2,000 people died from fentanyl last year.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more potent than heroin. The reason for the vast number of deaths is clear – much of the time, users don’t know that fentanyl is laced into the heroin or other drugs they buy.
By prescription, fentanyl is usually administered slowly through the skin via a transdermal patch and is prescribed for the treatment of severe pain related to cancer and other diseases. Most of the heroin on the street, however, is not a product of drug diversion.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, it is being made in clandestine labs in China, routed through Mexico, and shipped into U.S. cities. It can also be purchased online on the Dark Web.
Fentanyl is popular with drug dealers due to its low cost and potency. Traffickers can purchase one kilo in powder form from China for a few thousand dollars, and that kilo can be made into thousands of pills and be turned around for millions.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A. Psychology