Opioid Deaths on the Rise



In response to the newly-reported number of overdose deaths in the country, and on the heels of the first-ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day, Shatterproof, a national nonprofit dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the United States, announced that they will be addressing the alarming rates at which fentanyl is killing Americans through several targeted policy initiatives. According to the CDC, more than 107,000 people died of an overdose in the year 2021—more than twice the number of U.S. traffic fatalities or gun-violence deaths during that period. Approximately 66 percent of these deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and according to the CDC overdose deaths are the leading cause of death for people 18 to 45. The primary driver of the opioid epidemic today is illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. A recent Stanford-Lancet Commission Report warned that, without radical change, the U.S. opioid ten-year death toll could reach to 1.2 million by 2029. The Commission recommended bold changes to address this enormous challenge. The issue is further complicated by the fact that many users are not seeking fentanyl, rather it is laced into heroin, stimulants (cocaine and methamphetamines), and counterfeit pills of brand-named drugs like Oxycontin, Xanax and Adderall, unbeknownst to the user, driving overdoses. This is a multi-dimensional problem: a national security, law enforcement and public health challenge that requires a multi-dimensional solution spanning foreign policy, homeland security, and public health, while developing a deeper understanding of demand for the substances. To address this urgent public health crisis, Shatterproof has developed a national strategy to enact policies that can reverse the alarming trend in deaths from fentanyl. These policies include:

  • Ensuring real-time overdose monitoring through data collection and reporting

  • Ensuring multichannel, broad-based fentanyl-specific education programs

  • Significantly expanding access to and use of naloxone

  • Significantly expanding stigma-reduction programs related to those with a substance use disorder

  • Provide law enforcement with necessary tools to stop fentanyl trafficking

  • Integrating evidence-based prevention programming for substance use with other community-based programming for children, and ensuring adequate funding for prevention programs.

  • Testing viability of fentanyl test strips as an intervention by changing state drug paraphernalia laws, as needed, to make them available

“It is beyond time that we addressed the scourge that fentanyl has brought to our communities. Fentanyl’s silent and sinister prevalence is reversing otherwise positive trends in treatment quality and addiction stigma reduction. We must reduce the supply of fentanyl and the demand for its effects as logical and urgent next steps in our efforts to save lives, said Gary Mendell, Shatterproof Founder and CEO.” About Shatterproof Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the United States. Shatterproof harnesses the models of business, the rigor of science and the power of a national movement to create change and save lives through three pillars of work: revolutionizing the addiction treatment system, breaking down addiction-related stigmas and supporting and empowering our communities. To learn more visit www.Shatterproof.org