A rigorous effort to track U.S. overdose deaths and the drugs that caused them offers a snapshot of a fentanyl epidemic on the cusp of a westward shift.
A study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the synthetic opioid cutting a swath of death and destruction across the northeastern United States and the industrialized Midwest in 2017. That year, fentanyl was the drug cited most often as a cause of fatal overdoses in all five regions lying east of the Mississippi River, as well as the neighboring region that includes Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.
The picture was starkly different in the nations western states, where fentanyl barely registered as a cause of death. Instead, methamphetamine was the drug most often linked to overdose deaths in 2017.