More than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2022, edging out 2021 to become the most deadly year on record, according to a new CDC report.
The CDC released a provisional count for 2022’s death toll on Wednesday, estimating that 109,680 people died from drug overdoses throughout the year. While the total is slightly higher than 2021’s death toll of 109,179, it also indicates overdose deaths are no longer surging in the U.S. and have reached a plateau.
Overdose deaths skyrocketed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, rising from 71,000 in 2019 to more than 90,000 in 2020, and then eclipsing 100,000 for the first time in 2021.
The rise in deaths has coincided with an unprecedented spike in illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years. The proliferation of deadly fentanyl among drug traffickers has also contributed to the crisis.
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Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid many times stronger than heroin, is relatively cheap to produce and traffickers increasingly mix the substance into existing products to artificially increase supply. Buyers are often unaware that fentanyl has been mixed in when they purchase a drug, leading to widespread overdoses.
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Fentanyl is largely produced in China and then shipped to South America and across the border, a reality that has led to significant friction between Beijing and Washington, D.C.
China pushed back against the U.S. in April over sanctions targeting two Chinese companies and four nationals that the Treasury Department alleges are “supplying precursor chemicals to drug cartels in Mexico for the production of illicit fentanyl intended for U.S. markets.”
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“China, in the spirit of humanitarianism, has been trying to help the U.S. as best it can,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a news briefing, arguing that moves from the U.S. to impose sanctions “seriously undermines” bilateral cooperation between the two countries over drug control
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.