Fentanyl Crisis Across The United States
Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have become the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), synthetic opioids such as fentanyl were involved in nearly 70% of all opioid overdose deaths in 2019. This represents a dramatic increase from just a few years earlier, when synthetic opioids were involved in only a small percentage of overdose deaths.
Because fentanyl is so potent, even small amounts can be lethal. In fact, many overdose deaths involving fentanyl occur when individuals unknowingly consume the drug, as it is often mixed with other substances such as heroin or cocaine. Additionally, illicitly manufactured fentanyl may be sold in pill form, making it difficult for users to know exactly what they are consuming.
The overdose crisis related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl has become a major public health issue, and there are ongoing efforts to address it. These include increasing access to addiction treatment and harm reduction services, improving prescription drug monitoring programs, and enhancing law enforcement efforts to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs.
Homeless individuals are particularly vulnerable to drug overdose deaths for a variety of reasons, including limited access to healthcare and addiction treatment services, higher rates of mental health issues and trauma, and social isolation.
Moreover, many homeless individuals also struggle with substance use disorders and are at a higher risk of using fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is often mixed with other substances and sold on the street, and homeless individuals may be more likely to purchase these drugs due to limited access to other forms of pain management or recreational drug options.
In addition to addressing the broader public health crisis related to synthetic opioids, there are also targeted efforts underway to reduce overdose deaths among homeless populations. These efforts include increasing access to addiction treatment and harm reduction services, such as overdose prevention training and the distribution of naloxone (an opioid overdose reversal medication), and providing stable housing and social support services to homeless individuals with substance use disorders.