Washington’s King County recorded three fentanyl deaths in 2015.
But in 2023, the annual deaths from the drug has reached 1,050, and the year isn’t over. That represents a 47% jump over last year’s record-setting fentanyl fatalities.
The synthetic opioid that is killing so many Americans is being smuggled over the U.S. border from labs in Mexico.
Half of the county’s overdose deaths this year involved a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to a report by the Seattle Times.
Another 82 King County overdose deaths await pending toxicology reports, the report says.
American Indian and Alaska Native residents have by far the highest death rate from opioid overdoses, the Washington State Health Department says.
That statistical trend that is impacting Native families is mirrored nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The National Center for Health Statistics says there has been a 33 percent rise in drug overdose deaths including fentanyl among American Indians and Alaska Natives from 2020 to 2021, the second largest increase among ethnic groups in America. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have seen a 47% jump in deaths.
Alaska’s fentanyl deaths went from 9 in 2018 to 145 in 2021. Some 633 overdose deaths involving opioids occurred in Alaska between 2018 and 2022, according to the Department of Health.