Fentanyl and other powerful synthetic opioids have become entrenched in the U.S. supply of illicit drugs, pushing the national accidental overdose death rate to record levels.
As this deadliest latest wave of a decades-old national opioid crisis gains attention, misconceptions persist about fentanyl, how it is trafficked and why so many people are dying.
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— The AP has analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how many overdose deaths have involved opioids both nationally and by state. The analysis also has graphics showing the rise in deaths of synthetic opioids and a rundown of the states with the highest death rates in 2020 from fentanyl and similar drugs. It also includes links to the source database so customers can find additional information.
— A spreadsheet on the number of overdose deaths by state and year involving various classes of opioids is also being provided.
— In each state, government agencies including health and/or human services departments and often the attorney general's office have data and warnings about local trends in overdoses.
— Outside of government, in many communities, families of those killed by opioids have formed advocacy organizations.
— How is fentanyl circulating in your area? Law enforcement and health agencies, as well as community harm reduction campaigns, advocates and treatment center officials could have insight into whether the drugs are being sold as fentanyl or laced into other drugs in your areas.
— Has fentanyl become an issue in campaigns in the Nov. 8 election in your area?
— What are officials and candidates for office in your area saying about fentanyl? Are any of them making warnings about things that experts believe are unlikely, such as fentanyl being given to trick-or-treaters? If so, why?
— Are local or state police seizing more fentanyl? Has that made a difference in trafficking patterns in the areas?
— How are law enforcement and health agencies responding to the crisis, and do advocates feel they're taking the appropriate approach?
Localize It is an occasional feature produced by The Associated Press for its customers’ use. Questions can be directed to Katie Oyan at email@example.com.