According to new data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2016 saw the most number of drug-related deaths since the office started keeping track in 1993. A majority of those deaths are a result of opiate related usage, such as heroin, with the 40-49 age group the largest group.

One of the contributing factors to opiate-related deaths are synthetic opiates such as fentanyls, particularly a new drug known as furanfentanyl. In England and Wales, deaths increased by 24, from 34 in 2015 to 58 in 2016, due to fentanyl. It’s also likely that the actual value is higher than that as toxicologists don’t usually test for fentanyl. In fact, The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has recently identified 18 new fentanyls and have appropriately issued warnings as a new drug of concern.

At the same time, deaths from MDMA (or ecstasy) increased by 6 from 57 to 63 this year. Though higher overall than deaths chalked up to fentanyls, that can be attributed to MDMA’s far greater popularity among youths. Statistics also show that traditionally ecstasy deaths tend to receive far more media coverage than opiates, specifically in Scotland where all ecstasy deaths through the 1990s made headlines while only one in nine opiate deaths were reported.

It’s also worth noting that again, MDMA is the drug of choice among socially active youth, particularly club and festival goers, whereas heroin and other opiates-users tend to be older and are generally estranged from friends and family.


H/T: The Conversation