American scourge

The states hit hardest by the fentanyl crisis

In January, Chico first responders were called to a neighborhood for a “mass casualty event.” More than a dozen people required medical treatment and one man died. The culprit: fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. The highly potent painkiller was developed in the 1960s, but in recent years it has become a street drug (see “‘The deadliest wave,’” cover story, page 18). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl and its derivatives kill more people than any other type of illicit drug. Based on preliminary data, nearly half of all reported drug-overdose deaths in 2018 were attributed to it. Currently, California ranks 42nd in the state for fentanyl overdose deaths. Here are the states hardest hit by the scourge.