As Washington overdoses continue to rise, half of OD-linked deaths attributed to fentanyl

Apr 14, 2022, 6:01 AM | Updated: 7:05 am
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

New data from Washington state health officials shows the number of people dying from drug overdoses has continued to rise, and many of those deaths have been linked to fentanyl.

Overdose deaths topped 2,000 in 2021, a more than 66% increase over 2019, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Fentanyl is attributed as one of the culprits for the rise in overdose deaths, 50% of which are credited to the more lethal opioid. Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased about 10-fold since 2016.

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Chief Science Officer Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett says people who use drugs should now assume any drugs bought on the street, online, or from a friend contain fentanyl.

“Overdose deaths are a public health emergency, and fentanyl is a major driver,” wrote Dr. Sheng Kwan-Gett in a news release.

“What looks like a prescription oxycodone pill could be a counterfeit with more than enough fentanyl to kill. People who use drugs should assume that any drugs bought on the street, online, or from a friend has fentanyl.”

He also says people should consider carrying at least two doses of naloxone to help prevent opioid overdose deaths.

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As Washington overdoses continue to rise, half of OD-linked deaths attributed to fentanyl