Fentanyl

The West has a meth problem

Santa Ana police officers.
Santa Ana police officers inspecting crystal meth and tools for stealing cars in 2016. Photo: Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Methamphetamine led to more drug overdose deaths in 19 western states in 2017 than fentanyl, according to a new report from the CDC.

Between the lines: This was the first time that the CDC has broken down regional differences in overdose deaths by drug, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Expert Voices

Synthetic opioid crisis still growing, often among unwitting users

a labeled plastic bag of fentanyl powder
A bag of fentanyl seized by law enforcement. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Although opioid prescriptions in the U.S. have fallen, opioid overdose deaths — 47,000 in 2018 — remain at historic levels. The continued spread of fentanyl and other illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids suggest the problem could still get worse.

The big picture: Inexpensive and widely available on the internet, fentanyl is attractive to dealers who make counterfeit prescription pills or mix it into heroin. Fentanyl, however, is extremely potent, leading more users to fatally overdose.