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What is Fentanyl?
- Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 50 times more potent than morphine.
- Many people are exposed to fentanyl without knowledge while others use it intentionally because of its potency.
- Overdose deaths in the United States exceeded 100,000 in a 12-month period for the first time! 64%of these deaths involved synthetic opioids, mainly illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs) (May 2020-April 2021). This is up from the more than 91,000 overdose deaths that occurred the previous year (December 2019-December 2020).
- Synthetic opioids (i.e., illegal fentanyl) appear to be the main driver of the 38.4% increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.
- Although the northeast region continues to suffer the highest overdose deaths, several regions of the country showed sharp increases in IMF related deaths.
- Northeast – 3/5% increase; 5,194 deaths
- Midwest – 33.1% increase; 2,010 deaths
- South – 64.7% increase; 4, 342 deaths
- West – 93.9% increase; 1, 852 death
- *In jurisdictions participating in State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS)
Fentanyl is impacting minorities at an alarming rate.
- Non-Hispanic Blacks had the highest mortality rate due to synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2020. In addition, from 2013-2020, the highest changes in this rate were for: non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, non-Hispanic Whites.
- Overdose deaths involving IMF rose 47.6-fold among Non-Hispanic Blacks.
- Overdose deaths involving IMF rose 35.7-fold among Hispanics.
- Overdose deaths involving IMF rose 15.9-fold among Non-Hispanic Whites.
- You can help save lives – Carry Naloxone!
- An overdose can happen anywhere. If you suspect an opioid overdose, administer naloxone and get emergency medical assistance right away. Naloxone is a small, easy to carry medicine that rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
- Looking for Naloxone? Visit: naloxoneforall.org
How to recognize the signs of an overdose
A person will appear to be unresponsive; may have irregular breathing; may appear gray, blue, or have pale skin color; and may have very small pupils.
- How to reverse an overdose – Immediate action saves lives! Good Samaritan Laws protect you when you are trying to help someone in need.
- Call 911 immediately – call 911, or direct someone nearby to call and say that you are supporting a suspected overdose.
- Administer Naloxone – Even though the person is unresponsive: 1) announce that you are going to give naloxone 2) spray the naloxone in the person’s nose.
- Administer CPR – Tilt the individual’s head to make sure their airways are open. Apply chest compressions.
- Give Naloxone again – Administer additional naloxone if the person does not regain color or breathing, otherwise continue chest compressions, until help arrives.
- Remain calm and comforting – If the person is revived, remain calm and compassionate and encourage them to accept help or stay in a public place.
- Harm reduction is all about keeping people safe in a practical way. Simple tips are to:
- Carry Naloxone
- Never Use Alone
- Go Slow
- Test Your Drugs
- Test your drugs for fentanyl
- Fentanyl test strips can be used to determine the presence of fentanyl in your substance
- Even if your drugs test negative for fentanyl, use caution and remember the harm reduction steps to take.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Fentanyl. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/fentanyl.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Overdose Deaths Accelerating During COVID-19. Retrieved August 20, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p1218-overdose-deaths-covid-19.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Other Drugs. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/other-drugs.html
- Gladden, R. M., O’Donnell, J., Mattson, C. L., & Seth, P. (2019). Changes in opioid-involved overdose deaths by opioid type and presence of benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamine—25 states, July–December 2017 to January–June 2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(34), 737. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6834a2
- Nolan, M. L., Shamasunder, S., Colon-Berezin, C., Kunins, H. V., & Paone, D. (2019). Increased presence of fentanyl in cocaine-involved fatal overdoses: implications for prevention. Journal of Urban Health, 96(1), 49-54. DOI: 10.1007/s11524-018-00343-z
- Wang, Y., Goldberger, B. A., & Delcher, C. (2020). Florida Drug-Related Outcomes and Surveillance Tracking System (FROST). University of Florida.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (n.d.). Blacks Experiencing Fast-Rising Rates of Overdose Deaths Involving Synthetic Opioids Other than Methadone. Retrieved June 16, 2021 from https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/research/findings/nhqrdr/dataspotlight-opioid.pdf
- Lippold, K. M., Jones, C. M., Olsen, E. O. M., & Giroir, B. P. (2019). Racial/ethnic and age group differences in opioid and synthetic opioid–involved overdose deaths among adults aged ≥ 18 years in metropolitan areas—United States, 2015–2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(43), 967. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6843a3
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Federal grantees may now use funds to purchase fentanyl test strips. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0407-Fentanyl-Test-Strips.html
- CDC Health Advisory - https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2020/han00438.asp