The opioid crisis has been an ongoing drug epidemic that has involved millions of addicted opioid users throughout the past two decades. Although heroin is a deadly and dangerous substance, recently, new and more powerful synthetic opioids have been produced that have effects multitudes of times more powerful than heroin. Among these is fentanyl, a drug about fifty times more potent than heroin, which has quickly gained popularity among American users. People who have even the slightest amount of contact with fentanyl, such as skin contact, are at risk of overdose, making some worry that it has potential as a biochemical weapon.
According the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics, fentanyl has now surpassed heroin as the most deadly drug in America. The report published by these organizations stated that there had been 16,000 fentanyl overdoses in the year 2016 at a rate of about fifty per day. From 2013 to 2016, there was, on average, a 113 percent increase in fentanyl overdose-related deaths each year. In 2016, fentanyl made up of a 26 percent of all overdose deaths.
The same study showed that many overdoses involved reactions to multiple drugs simultaneously. For instance, approximately 40 percent of people listed having cocaine overdose as a cause of death also had fentanyl in their system, which may have contributed.
Following fentanyl in amount of overdose deaths were heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It remains to be seen whether or not the US government will crack down on the opioid epidemic sweeping through the country.