Americans dying from drug overdoses reaches record high

ATLANTA — U.S. drug overdose deaths hit a record high in 2021. New CDC data indicates that nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses last year.

That is 50% higher than in 2019.

No matter how big or small, overdoses are becoming a reality in communities across the country.

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

When Channel 2 Washington News Bureau reporter Blair Miller met with Forget, he said that fentanyl is easily the biggest challenge they’re dealing with across the country.

About two-thirds of last year’s overdose deaths involved fentanyl or other synthetic opioids, he said.

Forget says the biggest problem, though, is that some of the pills can even fool them.

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

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The DEA says that when talking with kids, the message has to be more than just to avoid 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,” Forget said.

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DEA Agent Michael Rosemond says fentanyl is their number one priority right now, but it may not go away quickly.

“[It’s] unprecedented the amount of fentanyl that is flowing into this country is right now,” Rosemond said.