Fentanyl Deaths Stabilizing—But Still Sky-High

African Americans and Hispanics have seen the sharpest rise in fentanyl overdose deaths, according to the first CDC analysis to single out the drug’s role in the opioid crisis, The Washington Post reports.

The dramatic rise signals fentanyl’s shift toward urban drug users, says lead author Merianne Rose Spencer. Among African Americans, fentanyl-related overdose deaths rose 141% a year on average from 2011-2016; compared to 118% among Hispanics and 61% among non-Hispanic whites.

The report also notes that the epidemic is concentrated east of the Mississippi River. It is particularly dire in New England where street heroin is sold in a powder form—not as black tar—so it easily mixes with powdered fentanyl.

The epidemic’s overall death rate has stabilized, the CDC reported earlier this month. That’s promising news—but the epidemic “has plateaued at an extraordinarily high level,” reports Joel Achenbach.

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