The opioid crisis in America continues to rage on like a California wildfire and is just as devastating. In addition to heroin, unprescribed fentanyl is leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. Even minuscule amounts are deadly, as can be seen in the main image attached to this article. The American Addiction Centers combed through Centers for Disease Control data regarding fatalities and produced a series of visualizations capturing the urgency of the problem.

Dr. Howard Taylor, Lab Director at Addiction Labs explains the prevalence of fentanyl among opioid users, “Fentanyl, which is 70x more potent than heroin, is a cheap additive to heroin and increases the value tremendously. There is far more profit in heroin combined with fentanyl compared to heroin alone. The price of heroin on the street continues to decline due to this addition of fentanyl.”

Chemical structure of fentanyl.
Chemical structure of heroin.

From the outset, the data coming from Dr. Taylors’ Labs reflected the economic benefits of cutting heroin with fentanyl. Year or year, the average amount of heroin samples detected that also contained fentanyl hovered around 37% (2016: 38%; 2017: 37.1%; 2018: 36.3%).

The effects have been devastating. Fentanyl deaths have skyrocketed as a result.

The East Coast continued to bear the brunt of most of the fentanyl carnage (that’s what it is… carnage). Meanwhile, states like Alaska (281.1%), Arizona (110.8%), Delaware (123.9%), Indiana (109.3%), and North Carolina (110.4%) are seeing the greatest increase in fentanyl related deaths. Only one state in the Union experienced a decrease in fatalities, North Dakota (-19.7%).

Meanwhile, heroin-related deaths have shown less variability.

In the near term, there’s some hope the situation can improve.

“The silver lining is that China has made the penalties for fentanyl production and export to the U.S. much more severe,” Dr. Taylor says. “We will see if this causes any decrease in our numbers at the end of 2019.”

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons; Heroin.net; CDC

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