By R Carter
The CDC’s August 30, 2019 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report documents changes in opioid-involved overdose deaths by opioid type combined in the presence of benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamine for 25 states, July–December 2017 to January–June 2018.
Overall they report about a 5% decrease in Prescription Overdose Deaths when compared to the time frame 2014-2017. Yet in this same time frame, overdoses from illegally manufactured Fentanyl are up 11% with 63% or nearly 2/3 of all illicit overdose deaths reporting a combination of Fentanyl with benzodiazepines, cocaine, or methamphetamine.
The reader should note though, that when overdose deaths are counted, one individual who overdoses on a combination of hydrocodone or oxycodone and Fentanyl, is counted as both an illegal opioid and a prescription opioid death, even though the actual source of the hydrocodone or oxycodone may not be known and could have come from an illegal sources. Until States start cross-referencing every opioid overdose death with Prescription Drug Monitoring Data, the real sources of these medications will not be known.
The CDC goes on to say, from 2013 to 2017, the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths (opioid deaths) in the United States increased by 90%, from 25,052 to 47,600. This increase was primarily driven by substantial increases in deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) or fentanyl analogs† mixed with heroin, sold as heroin, or pressed into counterfeit prescription pills, some of which contain hydrocodone or oxycodone. Italicized and bold words are my own, not the CDC’s and are based on reports from Ohio law enforcement and exit interviews with street drug users coming out of treatment.
The report goes on to say Methamphetamine-involved and cocaine-involved deaths that co-involved opioids also substantially increased from 2016 to 2017, confirming what law enforcement officials reported during that same period. All of which goes back to what has been reported for more than seven years, that enterprising black market individuals, are mixing Fentanyl into every street drug sold as a means of increasing profits due to its low cost and ready availability.