Health and Medicine

Fentanyl Overdoses Become Leading Cause of Death in 18- to 45-Year-Olds

Fentanyl-related drug overdoses in 2020 became the top killer in adults aged 18 to 45—overtaking suicide, vehicle accidents, and gun violence, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by nonprofit group Families Against Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, highly addictive, and deadly. Buyers may be unaware that the drugs they buy contain illicit fentanyl, a 2 milligram dose of which can be fatal.

The substance is most often manufactured in Mexico using chemicals supplied from China and trafficked across the southern border by Mexican drug cartels. Fentanyl is mixed with other narcotics to increase potency as well as pressed into counterfeit pain pills that are made to look like blue Oxycodone prescription pills and are commonly known as “Mexican oxys.”

Families Against Fentanyl is advocating for the U.S. government to designate fentanyl and its analogs as a weapon of mass destruction under federal statute.

The statute defines “weapon of mass destruction,” in part, as “any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxin or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors.”

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