Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reviewed death certificates filed from 2011 to 2016 to find out which drugs were mentioned most frequently each year.
A new CDC report looked at the death certificates of about 64,000 drug overdose victims.
The rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States has tripled from 1999 through 2016, as the nation grapples with a persistent opioid epidemic. Twenty-five percent of the 2016 drug overdose deaths involved heroin, while methamphetamine accounts for 10 percent of the overall figure. On average, the USA death rate involving fentanyl increased about 113 percent per year from 2013 to 2016. It's fentanyl's first time atop the list, which had heroin in the No. 1 spot from 2012 to 2015, USA Today reports. According to the report, fentanyl was the drug behind almost more than 28 percent of the cases- more than any other drug. "It's not really what's happening".
Fentanyl is involved in so many overdoses because of its high potency; it is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and even a small amount can be lethal. Heroin and fentanyl were mostly the reasons behind accidental overdose, while prescription meds such as oxycodone and hydrocodone were the most used in suicide overdoses. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were involved in almost 30,000 overdoses past year, out of a total of about 70,000, according to federal estimates.
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In the 2011-16 period examined, the number of drug overdoses involving methadone has dropped. After declines earlier in the decade, the report said that overdose deaths from both cocaine and methamphetamine were starting to rise again. It's hard to know how people get these drugs, because that data is not on death certificates, she said.
In addition, other forms of fentanyl, such as carfentanil or butyrfentanyl, which are much more potent than fentanyl itself, are also involved in overdose deaths, Kirane said.
Fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses in the US.
"This study continues to sound the alarm that we have a long way to go to reversing the tragic trends within the opioid crisis", Kirane said.