Fentanyl is now the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a National Vital Statistics System report published Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report sheds a bright light on the changing nature of America’s drug landscape – and the devastating number of overdose deaths that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years.
Back in 2011, oxycodone was the drug most commonly linked to overdose deaths. Starting in 2012 and lasting until 2015, heroin surpassed painkillers to become the drug most often involved. But then fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, infiltrated the American drug supply — what the CDC calls “the third wave” of the opioid epidemic. By 2016, overdose deaths involving fentanyl had become more common than any other.
The authors of the report identified drug overdose deaths by looking at the text on death certificates for the years 2011 to 2016. In cases where a death involved more than one drug (e.g., both heroin and cocaine), they counted the death in all relevant drug categories. Alcohol, nicotine, and other non-drug substances were not part of the analysis.
Researchers found that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl (or one of its analogs) doubled each year from 2013 to 2016. Deaths involving heroin have also continued to rise, increasing threefold from 2011 to 2016.
These numbers have only continued to rise in 2017, according to a separate CDC data brief issued in November. It states that the rate of overdose deaths involving fentanyl had risen to 9 per 100,000 people, compared to 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016.
The numbers in the National Vital Statistics System report show how fentanyl took a lethal hold quickly after the drug widely entered the American drug market. In 2011 and again 2012, fentanyl was mentioned in about 1,600 drug overdose deaths. By 2016, fentanyl was connected to 18,335 such deaths: it was linked to 29 percent of all drug overdose deaths that year.
In more than two-thirds of the overdose deaths involving fentanyl, one or more other drugs were present. That’s not surprising, because drugs including heroin and cocaine are now often sold with fentanyl mixed in. Sometimes people believe they are taking pure heroin or cocaine, but the drug is laced with fentanyl. Such situations can easily lead to overdose.
The report also highlights the importance for accurate reporting in the text of death certificates. A study published earlier this year found that the U.S. has been undercounting opioid-related deaths by 20 to 35 percent, due to varying standards between states and counties for investigating and reporting overdose deaths. Coroners and medical examiners often don’t state exactly which drugs contributed to a death on a death certificate.
But those practices have been getting better in recent years: The researchers note that their results may have been affected by the improvements in reporting the specific drugs involved in overdose deaths. Accordingly, they applied an adjustment factor taking into account better reporting of specific drugs involved.
These recent trends are part of a larger epidemic of fatal drug overdoses, which more than tripled between 1999 and 2017.
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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