Fentanyl Deaths Per Year (2024)

Examine the sharp increase in U.S. fentanyl deaths from 1999 to 2022, the contributing factors, and the essential public health measures needed.

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Number of Fentanyl Deaths Per Year in U.S., 1999-2022


*2022 data are preliminary.

Source: National Safety Council

Early Trends of Fentanyl Deaths by Year and Alarming Escalation

The opioid crisis in the United States has escalated dramatically over the past two decades, with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, becoming one of the deadliest contributors. In 1999, the recorded deaths due to fentanyl were relatively low, at 730 fatalities. However, these numbers have surged at an alarming rate over the years. By 2006, the death count had more than doubled to 2,707. Though there was a slight decrease in 2007, numbers rebounded and steadily climbed, reaching 2,946 in 2009.

Mid-Decade Surge and Fentanyl Deaths 2022

The real explosion in fentanyl fatalities began in the mid-2010s. By 2014, the death toll was 5,544, and by 2016 reached to 19,413. This rapid increase highlighted the growing availability and misuse of this potent drug. By 2017, the figures had skyrocketed to 28,466, and they continued to rise each year, reaching a peak of 74,225 fentanyl deaths 2022.

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Contributing Factors

The rise in fentanyl deaths by year is due to several reasons. Fentanyl is extremely potent, 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, making it very dangerous, especially when taken without medical guidance or mixed with other drugs. It's increasingly found in the illegal drug market, often mixed with other substances without users knowing, raising the risk of overdose. Many people also don't realize their drugs contain fentanyl, which can lead to accidental overdoses.

Necessary Public Health Responses

The sharp increase in fentanyl deaths per year calls for immediate action in public health. It's crucial to educate people about the dangers of fentanyl and the risks of contaminated drugs. Expanding access to addiction treatment and recovery programs is essential. Also, providing wider access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses, to first responders and the public could save many lives.


The rising number of fentanyl deaths in the U.S. from 1999 to 2022 highlights a severe public health crisis. It shows the urgent need for thorough strategies to stop the spread of synthetic opioids and help those at risk of addiction. Without major interventions, the situation with fentanyl-related deaths is expected to get worse, creating bigger challenges for public health and safety.

Disclaimer: This article on fentanyl deaths is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or legal advice. Please consult a professional for specific concerns.

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