Report Identifies Recommendations to Curb More Fatalities
Fentanyl overdose deaths jumped from 28,000 in 2017 to 32,000 in 2018, according to preliminary CDC data. A new report, The Fentanyl Epidemic: State Initiatives to Reduce Overdose Deaths, identifies the 11 U.S. states most impacted by fentanyl and highlights these states’ most promising interventions, which serve as recommendations for immediate actions to save more lives in every state as the fentanyl crisis grows. The report is a collaboration between Drug Strategies, a nonprofit research institute that promotes more effective drug use prevention, education, and treatment, and Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the course of the addiction crisis in America.
This report reviews data by states that suffered the highest number of fentanyl overdose deaths from 2011 through 2017. In 2017, just nine states were responsible for nearly 60 percent of all fentanyl related deaths in the U.S.: Ohio, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois. In addition to these nine states, the report includes West Virginia and New Hampshire because they reported the highest numbers of fentanyl overdose deaths compared to their population size. Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts were also in this category (highest number of deaths per 100,000). Ahead of public release of the report, Shatterproof and Drug Strategies contacted the governor’s staff for each of the 11 states at highest risk to discuss the report and the recommendations that will curb the epidemic.
“This report is the first to take a close look at the states that have been devastated by fentanyl. We highlight what states have done to reduce fentanyl overdose deaths and we provide seven recommendations that can have an immediate impact in curbing this epidemic. Effective strategies are urgently needed to save lives from this highly lethal, powerful drug,” says Drug Strategies President, Mathea Falco.
Some of the more promising efforts made by the states that have been most severely impacted by this crisis are highlighted in the report. In addition, policy and practice improvements for states to consider in their mission to reduce fentanyl overdoses and deaths are recommended. These recommendations range from improved data collection, standardized testing and death certificate reporting, promoting prevention strategies, naloxone distribution programs, reducing stigma, and public education campaigns. The report also recommends expanded access to treatment, including Medicaid’s role in access to medication for addiction treatment (MAT) for all those struggling with opioid addiction.
“This report illustrates that the reach of the third wave of this crisis, fentanyl, has only just begun to be felt,” said Gary Mendell, Founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “Good policy helped mitigate the effects of the first two waves, prescription opioids and illicit heroin. Several of these states were on the forefront of addressing the earlier phases of the opioid crisis and we need to harness this experience to reverse the course of the fentanyl wave.”
Quick facts about Fentanyl:
- Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) opioid 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.
- Most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose and death are linked to illegally-manufactured fentanyl. It is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects.
- In 2017, fentanyl was involved in more than 28,000 drug overdose deaths. That’s almost half of the total drug overdose deaths reported that year—72,000—in the United States.[i] (Center for Disease control 2016, Oct 26 Death investigations Systems)
- From 2015 to 2017 alone, fentanyl deaths almost tripled. (Center for Disease Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2018)ii
- Approximately 3 out of every 4 deaths are male (72.1%) and 8 out of 10 are white (84.8%). While all age groups are affected, the majority of victims (76%) are 25 to 54 years old. [ii] (Center for Disease Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2018).
To see the full report please visit, https://www.shatterproof.org/fentanyl-epidemic.
Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the course of the addiction crisis in America. Shatterproof is focused on ending the stigma of addiction and ensuring treatment in America is based upon proven research. The organization advocates for changes to federal and state policy, payer reform, treatment quality assessment, and provides public education through family and workplace programs.
About Drug Strategies
Drug Strategies is a non-profit research institute created in 1993 with support from major foundations. Drug Strategies’ mission is to identify and promote more effective approaches to substance abuse and to increase public understanding of current research on what works and what does not.
 Center for Disease Control 2016, Oct 26 Death investigations Systems
 Center for Disease Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
[i] Center for Disease Control 2016, Oct 26 Death investigations Systems
[ii] Center for Disease Control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.