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Fentanyl Addiction Statistics

Fentanyl, a leading synthetic opioid globally, is now the primary cause of opioid overdose deaths, worsening the opioid epidemic. Tracking fentanyl abuse trends is crucial for saving lives. Misinformation in the US can prevent bystander assistance during a fentanyl overdose. Identifying vulnerable demographics is essential for educating and saving lives.

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Statistics on Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl has become one of the most notorious synthetic opioids in the world and is now the leading cause of death among opioid overdose deaths. With the opioid epidemic only worsening, tracking fentanyl abuse trends and statistics is a life-saving effort.

Misinformation about fentanyl has been a serious problem in the US and can cause bystanders not to help someone experiencing a fentanyl overdose. Understanding what kinds of people are most vulnerable to fentanyl abuse is essential to educating people and saving lives.

Quick Facts About Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid drug approved for use as an anesthetic and for pain relief. While fentanyl can be a lifesaver for patients who need it, the drug can lead to tragedy when used and abused without medical supervision.

Here is some basic info to know about fentanyl:

  • Fentanyl is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Less than 0.007% of an ounce or 2mg of fentanyl causes certain death.
  • Fentanyl must be prescribed by a doctor, which has led to the creation of illegally made fentanyl (IMF) and lacing synthetic opioids with fentanyl.
  • Common street names for fentanyl include Dance Fever, Friend, China Girl, China Town, Goodfellas, Jackpot, Apache, King Ivory, Murder 8, Great Bear, He-Man, and Tango & Cash.
  • Fentanyl can be taken in the following ways: injected, smoked, orally by pill or tablet, snorted or sniffed, and spiked onto blotter paper.
  • Fentanyl overdose symptoms typically include stupor, disorientation, cold and clammy skin, changes in pupil size, cyanosis (bluish color in the skin, lips, and nail beds due to lack of oxygen), coma, and respiratory failure that can lead to death.
  • According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), illicitly manufactured fentanyl accounts for 52.7% of all drug overdose deaths.
  • Illegal fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Many people are completely unaware they are taking fentanyl due to this mixing not being disclosed.
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Prevalence of Fentanyl Abuse

Recent 2022 data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) shows that  991,000 people over age 12 abuse fentanyl. Opioid abuse has been a huge public health issue in the US over the past few decades, and fentanyl has played a huge role in opioid overdose deaths.

  • Over 2 million Americans 12 and older have an opioid use disorder.
  • Over 20% of all people with a substance abuse issue have an opioid addiction.

Fentanyl Abuse VS Other Opioids

According to 2022 data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), fentanyl misuse was at 19.0%.

By comparison, that same study showed the following percentages of abuse for other opioids:

  • Buprenorphine: 19.5%
  • Hydromorphone: 7.9%
  • Hydrocodone: 10.2%
  • Oxycodone: 12.3%
  • Codeine: 9.3%
  • Tramadol: 9.4%
  • Morphine: 7.2%
  • Methadone: 14.8%

Fentanyl Addiction by Gender

Although there is little data on fentanyl abuse by gender specifically, there is research on opioid abuse by gender.

According to data from NIDA, women are more sensitive to pain than men and, therefore, more likely to abuse and self-medicate with opioids. However, NIDA also reports that men are dying of synthetic overdose at a rate of 2-3 times that of women.

  • Data from NIDA indicates that 7,109 women and 9,978 men died from prescription opioid overdose (a total of 17,087)* In 2016. That’s about 19 women per day compared to about 27 men dying from overdosing on prescription opioids.
  • According to research from the University of California at Los Angeles, synthetic opioid overdose deaths in 2013–2020 increased by 2,209% for males and by 991% for females.
  • Women between the ages of 45 and 54 are more likely than women of other age groups to die from a prescription opioid overdose.

Fentanyl Addiction by Age

People of all ages develop addiction to fentanyl and other synthetic or semi-synthetic opioids. However, certain age groups are more at risk for opioid abuse that involves fentanyl.

  • Data from SAMHSA indicates that in 2022, 54 teens aged 12 to 17 and 1,499 adults 26 and older reported misusing prescription and illegally made fentanyl.
  • In 2022, Los Angeles County reported that fatal overdoses from fentanyl occurred most often among adults aged 40-64 (46%) and adults aged 26-39 (39%), followed by young adults aged 18-25 (11%), older adults aged 65+ (5%), and youth 17 and under (1%).
  • According to the National Safety Council, 71% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54, but the number of deaths among individuals 55 and older is quickly growing.
  • Few opioid deaths occur among children younger than 15.

Fentanyl Addiction by Race

There isn’t much in-depth data on fentanyl addiction by race, but some information is available regarding misuse and overdose of fentanyl or opioids. In general, white or caucasian individuals account for the majority of fentanyl misuse and opioid overdose.

According to data from SAMHSA, the estimated number of individuals misusing prescription and illegally made fentanyl in 2022 by race includes:

  • Black or African American: 282,000
  • White: 1,117,000
  • Hispanic or Latino: 168,000

In 2021, the CDC reported the following opioid overdose rates per race:

  • Black or African American: 14,537
  • White: 53,022
  • Hispanic or Latino: 9,921
  • Asian: 533
  • Native American: 932
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 62

Fentanyl Addiction During the Pandemic

The CDC reported a large spike in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many healthcare providers attribute this rise to the stress and isolation during COVID-19 quarantines and lockdowns. Among this rise, prescription drug and opioid overdoses rose sharply.

  • The CDC reports that opioids accounted for around 75% of all overdose deaths during the early months of the pandemic. Around 80 percent of those included synthetic opioids.
  • According to reports from the Association of American Medical Colleges, 32% of urine analyses during June 2020 showed evidence of nonprescribed fentanyl.
  • Data from the CDC shows that opioid overdose deaths in the United States were around 40,000 in 2019 but rose to 68,630 in 2020 and 80,411 in 2021.

Fentanyl and the Opioid Epidemic

Since 2013, the United States has faced an opioid crisis mainly centered around synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Each year, the number of fentanyl-related overdoses and overdose deaths has increased, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rise in fentanyl overdoses has led to more awareness campaigns through social media to educate people on ways to identify signs of overdose. Public awareness of life-saving measures like naloxone (Narcan®) that can reverse an opioid overdose has increased as a result.

The opioid epidemic has also led to the development of controversial harm reduction centers. These harm reduction centers provide clean needles, fentanyl test strips, and on-site medical staff to ensure overdoses are quickly treated.

As of 2023, August 21st is now recognized as “Fentanyl Prevention and Awareness Day” to remember those lost to fentanyl overdose and raise awareness for the rising rates of overdose due to fentanyl.

Fentanyl Overdose Statistics

Unfortunately, fentanyl overdoses are very common. The CDC reports that 52.7% of all drug overdose deaths are caused by illegally made fentanyl.

  • The CDC reports that over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In 2022, 73,654 people died from a fentanyl overdose.
  • According to the CDC, in 2022, West Virginia had the highest rate of fentanyl overdose deaths, with 60.8 overdoses per 100,000 people. Washington, DC, was second with a rate of fentanyl overdose deaths at 46.3 per 100,000 people.
  • California had the highest number of overdose deaths from fentanyl in 2022, with 6,453 overdose deaths. Florida (5,083) and New York (4,950) had the second and third most total deaths.

Fentanyl Addiction Recovery Statistics

Fentanyl addiction is typically treated through a combination of medications to curb withdrawals and cravings, as well as cognitive behavioral therapies.

Many fentanyl addicts may require inpatient or intensive outpatient rehab for their addiction, which increases their chances of recovery.

  • According to a study from the Recovery Research Institute, nearly 1.2% (estimated 259,260) and 2.2% (estimated 489,465) of primary opioid users achieved recovery for up to a year or 1–5 years, respectively.
  • Individuals in early recovery from opioids average around 27.5 years old, are more likely to be White, began using their primary substance later in life, and reported use of more substances overall.
  • Individuals with primary opioid use also used for an average of 8.4 years before resolving their problem.
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Get Help for a Problem With Fentanyl

If you or someone you know is abusing fentanyl, now is the time to get help. The risk of overdose with illicit drugs like non-prescribed fentanyl is dangerously high, so seeking treatment may prevent death by overdose.

Talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist about what options may be best for you or your loved one. If you’re unsure where to start, try using SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call 1-877-726-4727 (HELP) to learn what addiction treatment options are in your area.

FAQs About Fentanyl Statistics

What is the current level of fentanyl use in the US?

Fentanyl is widely used in the US, and rates of overdose are rising. According to SAMHSA, 991,000 individuals aged 12 or older misused prescription or illegally made fentanyl in 2022.

In 2022, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized more than 57.9 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and more than 13,400 pounds of fentanyl powder.

What do the statistics say about the rise of fentanyl use?

From 2012 to 2018, fentanyl overdose death rates increased by over 1,000%. Opioid overdose deaths rose sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, with around 40,000 deaths in 2019, 68,630 in 2020, and 80,411 in 2021.

What is the percentage of people who die after consuming fentanyl?

No data is showing how many people die after consuming fentanyl. However, it’s very easy to overdose on very small amounts of fentanyl, as just two milligrams can cause overdose or death.

Many other street drugs like stimulants, benzodiazepines, and other opioids are now being laced with fentanyl. Such a practice has caused many people to take fentanyl unknowingly.

Which demographic has the highest rate of fentanyl use?

White adults make up a large percentage of fentanyl abusers, whether through abusing prescription pills or illegally made fentanyl. People aged 26–39 years have the highest rates of fentanyl overdose deaths.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of AddictionHelp.com and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 3). Most Overdose Deaths Involve Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/featured-topics/overdose-deaths-data.html
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  8. How Prevalent Is Recovery From Opioid Use Disorder in the United States and How Do People Get There? Recovery Research Institute. (2020, April 14). https://www.recoveryanswers.org/research-post/opioid-recovery-prevalence-united-states/
  9. Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts. National Center for Health Statistics. (2023, November 15). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm
  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, May 4). Sex and Gender Differences in Substance Use. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/sex-gender-differences-in-substance-use
  11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, March 3). Fentanyl Drugfacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl
  12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, September 25). Drug Overdose Death Rates. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

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