The Facts About Fentanyl

The news may sometimes sensationalize this powerful synthetic opioid, but around two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the U.S. involve fentanyl — and many people take it without even knowing

September 29, 2022

It has been five years since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency,” and the yearly number of overdose deaths has only continued to rise since then. According to the provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the country in 2021, marking another year that broke the grim record of the previous one.

Of those deaths, 71,238 were attributed in part or entirely to synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl — 66.2% of overdose deaths. The rate of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids was more than 18 times higher in 2020 than 2013. There are plenty of sensationalized stories in the media about fentanyl, but these numbers are staggering.

Facts about fentanyl infographic

Fifty to 100 times stronger than natural and semisynthetic opioids like heroin, morphine and oxycodone, fentanyl is particularly dangerous because it is often disguised as, or mixed into, other drugs. That means users of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other prescription opioids may be ingesting something much more potent without knowing it. But overdose deaths are preventable. Get the facts about fentanyl, and how you can identify and stop an overdose.

More Help & Information

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker

Sobriety vs. Recovery: What's the Difference?

Are the concepts themselves up for debate? Do they require certain treatments, or abstinence from everything? It's complicated! And new ways of thinking are changing the conversation.

NFL players celebrate after a touchdown

Now Elite NFL Players, They First Tackled Addiction | News Roundup

All Sober compiles the best of the latest headlines. Here's your addiction and recovery news for the week of Feb. 19, 2024!

Family members in a counseling session

Help Them Help You: Explaining Your Mental Health to Your Family

Your mental health can affect — and be affected by — your loved ones. Here's how to discuss it with them so everyone can heal.

Two women hailing a cab in a city

Dry January (and Beyond): The Possibilities Are Endless

There's never been a better time to go sober. Whether you're trying it out this month or already living the life, join us for some tips, ideas, inspiration — and maybe even new friends.

Men hugging at a 12-step recovery meeting

Sober Holiday Tips: Meeting 'Share-a-Thons'

Need to get out of the house for a bit and see some friendly sober faces? Recovery support group meeting marathons run 24/7 from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day.

People hugging

What Happens After an Intervention?

Your loved one agreed to get treatment for addiction during their intervention — or not. Here's what you need to know about what comes next.

People in a recovery community support group meeting

We're in This Together: Building a Healthy Sober Support Network

You are the captain of your recovery, but you don't have to do it alone. A sober support network will lift you up in tough times and celebrate your triumphs.

Woman with bag looking at a smartphone

Real-Life Recovery Tips: Phone a Friend

When you're traveling, you can take your sober support network with you — right in your pocket. Rocker Kasim Sulton shares his top recovery tip in this video.

New Report