Fentanyl, other synthetic drugs cause record-high drug overdoses in the US

ATLANTA — The CDC says that drug overdoses in the United States have hit a record high.

According to CDC data, nearly 108,000 people have died from drug overdoses in 2021. The data shows the number of overdose deaths every year between 1999 and 2021, except for the year 2018.

Channel 2′s Blair Miller in Washington, D.C. spoke with leaders of the DEA to find out how serious this is.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Jarod Forget leads the DEA’s Washington, D.C. field office. He said he has never seen a drug this deadly.

“In all my years with DEA, I’ve never seen the drug this deadly. Fentanyl is one of the deadliest drugs that we see in our business. It’s killing a lot of Americans. It spans across all demographics,” said Forget.

He added that fentanyl is easily the biggest challenge that the DEA is facing at the moment with communities everywhere.

Last year, about 2/3 deaths involved fentanyl or other synthetic opioids. One of the biggest hurdles was dealing with counterfeit pills, according to DEA agents.

“We’re seeing a lot of pills that are being branded as oxy 30 Adderall, Xanax, when at DEA we can’t tell the difference,” said Forget. “But in fact, it’s a deadly fentanyl pill that looks exactly like an oxy 30.”


The DEA said when talking with kids, the message has to be more than just avoiding drugs.

“Don’t take a pill unless it’s kind of came from your doctor, don’t take pills from friends, you have to talk to your kids about pills. That’s, that’s the threat,” said Forget.

Another DEA agent, Michael Rosemond, said the DEA realizes this issue is a top priority.

“This is the number one priority, we realize, and you know, our administrator realizes how unprecedented the amount of fentanyl that is flowing into this country is right now,” said Rosemond.

DEA agents said this issue is not likely to go away quickly.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]