Opioid Crisis

Kristie Flynn

Deadly fentanyl overdoses increase by 1,000 percent, according to CDC report

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB, March 25, 2019) — A new CDC report on fentanyl shows fatal overdoses skyrocketed 1,000 percent in a six-year span.

The numbers tell a disturbing story from 2011 through 2016.

“It doesn't surprise me at all, unfortunately,” said Dr. Alex Wright with Norton Healthcare. “It just happens to get in the community, and people get what they can get.”

Wright has been with Norton for about nine years, and he's seen it all.

“Over that time, cases of opiate-related illness, whether that be overdoses or infections, have been skyrocketing every year,” he said.

When data was first being collected by the CDC, the United States saw about 1,600 deadly fentanyl overdoses in 2011. In 2013, it began to rise to just under 2,000. Fast forward to 2016, and the U.S. saw more than 18,000 fentanyl deaths.

“They end up getting something they're not really used to, and they overdose pretty quickly, because fentanyl is so much more potent than a lot of the other opiates,” Wright said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid.

Wright has personally been impacted by the opioid epidemic. A few months ago, he lost a family member to an overdose.

“I've known that cousin since he was born, and I knew he was a good person. So it's not about being bad or good. It's about an addiction,” he said. “They are patients. They have a disease. The disease is the addiction.”

The age group hardest hit by the rise in overdoses were among younger adults 15 to 34 years old.

“We don't treat them as bad people," Wright said. "They're people that have addictions, and because of that, they've had some bad choices associated with that.”

To view the full report CDC report click here.


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Media Coverage of Arkansas Opioid Litigation

State aims to tackle addiction in the courtroom – Arkansas Money & Politics

One state's novel idea to make Big Pharma pay for opioid epidemic — CNN

Attorney: Governments seeking to recover 'probably...billions' from opioid companies – Talk Business & Politics

Opioid Crisis: Is Arkansas Paving the way for big pharma, not taxpayers, to pay for addiction? — Newsweek Online

Arkansas cities, counties sue drug makers over opioid crisis — Associated Press

Other Media Coverage

Opioid-makers gushed dollars to Arkansas doctors — Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Bitter Pill — Arkansas Times

Opioid crisis affects all Americans, rural and urban — U.S. Department of Agriculture

The opioid epidemic: A crisis years in the making — The New York Times

Opioid Resources

A Prescription for Action: Local Leadership in Ending the Opioid Crisis

This joint report from National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC) examines how cities and counties can strengthen collaboration with each other and state, federal, private-sector and non-profit partners to tackle the opioid crisis. Several of the recommendations are accompanied by existing local practices from cities and counties. The report also includes recommendations for state and federal officials, who are pivotal partners in local efforts to combat opioid misuse, diversion, overdose and death.

Arkansas Drug Takeback

Arkansas Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Association of Counties

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Rainwater, Hold & Sexton Injury Lawyers 800-434-4800

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