How fentanyl flooded the US and sent opioid deaths soaring | News

During the coronavirus pandemic, drug overdose rates in America surged. In 2020, overdoses were up by 31% in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The death rate increased most dramatically among Black and Indigenous Americans – rising by 49% and 43% respectively in just one year.

Experts say a large portion of this increase can be explained by the growing prevalence of fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid. The reporter Erin McCormick has been investigating how the drug became so widespread in the US, and how its rise is rewriting the narrative of America’s opioid crisis.

According to a Guardian analysis of 2020 federal data, those under the age of 24 have been particularly hard hit in this latest wave of overdoses. Among this age group, accidental drug deaths increased by 50% in a single year – taking 7,337 young lives in 2020. One mother who has experienced this crisis firsthand is Perla Mendoza. She tells Michael Safi how her 20-year-old son, Daniel, overdosed on fentanyl after he was sold fake Xanax pills by a dealer on Snapchat.

Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

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