New Highs In Drug Overdose Deaths Show Fentanyl Mixed With Other Drugs

It’s being considered a new wave in the opioid epidemic: the use of fentanyl mixed with other drugs. No doubt the coronavirus pandemic has driven drug use up, but the overdose death toll is unprecedented. Over 100,000 dead this year alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to “The co-use of fentanyl and other drugs distinguishes this wave from the ones that came before it, which were characterized by the rowing use of prescription pain medications and the rise of heroin and fentanyl individually.”

While the loneliness and the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic certainly have contributed to driving drug use up, many experts say the latest overdose wave is driven in part by the use of fentanyl with other drugs. Right now it’s difficult to know if the co-use of fentanyl with other drugs is intentional or the result of contamination or alteration at the dealer level. Some research from around the country indicates that in certain areas, “the combination use of methamphetamine or a powerful stimulant with a powerful opioid is a popular combination now.”

Unfortunately too many more deaths will likely occur before we know whether co-use is intentional or not. In the meantime, I am in total agreement with the statement made in the article regarding state and local governments needing to immediately turn their attention to building back addiction treatment and outreach systems that were left unattended during the pandemic.