(Arizona's Family) -- Drug overdose deaths were at all-time high in 2020, and synthetic opioids -- most fentanyl -- are largely to blame, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said earlier this month. Use of opioids has been on the rise for several years now, and with that, we've seen a corresponding increase in overdose deaths. The NCHS reported that overdose deaths from opioids rose from 50,963 in 2019 to 69,710 in 2020. According to agency statistics, the rate of drug overdoses involving fentanyl skyrocketed by about 113% each year from 2013 through 2016.
Synthetic opioids are manmade drugs like fentanyl, as opposed to semi-synthetic opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, or natural opioids such as codeine and morphine. Fentanyl binds more completely to opioid receptors in the brain than most other opioids do, making it more effective and so much more deadly.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin.
Let's put that in perspective
A standard low-dose aspirin is 81 milligrams. If you were to cut that tablet into 324 pieces, one of those pieces would equal ¼ milligram. That's the red slice below. About a third of that same aspirin -- the dark gray slice -- is considered a deadly dose of heroin.