JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Men in the United States are dying from opioid overdoses at three times the rate of women, according to research released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers, who are part of the National Center for Health Statistics, found that while men and women had similar rates of fentanyl-related deaths from 2011 through 2013, that began to shift. By 2016, the rate of men dying from fentanyl overdoses was nearly three times that of women.
Researchers also found that while whites had the highest overall rates of fentanyl fatalities, death rates among blacks and Hispanics were growing faster. Between 2011 and 2016, blacks had fentanyl death rates increase 140.6% annually and Hispanics had an increase of 118.3% annually.
First responders with Jacksonville Fire Rescue often respond to opioid overdoses in the city and frequently use Narcan to save lives.
"It’s daily. Daily throughout the city," said Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. "There was one point when we were struggling to keep enough on the trucks to respond and have it to administer.”
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can shut down breathing in under minute. According to CDC research, its popularity began to surge across the US in 2013.
Since then, fatal overdoses involving fentanyl have doubled. In Jacksonville, first responders are noticing Fentanyl's effect is so powerful that Narcan may not be strong enough to reverse the effects.
“Sometimes the Narcan, depending on what it is that they’ve overdosed on, doesn’t react as well. Sometimes we have to give more," Wyse said.
While there were increases in fentanyl-related fatalities in all age groups, the largest rate increases were among younger adults between the ages of 15 and 34. The rate of 15- to 24-year-olds who died from fentanyl overdoses increased about 94% each year between 2011 and 2016, and about 100 percent each year for 25- to 34-year-olds.
Americans are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. In 2017, drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans, and opioids are the leading driver in US drug overdose deaths. Opioids are a class of drugs that includes illicit fentanyl and heroin, as well as commonly prescribed painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine.
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