Overdose deaths rise as opioid epidemic continues to sweep nation

Overdose deaths rise as opioid epidemic continues to sweep nation

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The opioid epidemic continues as the amount of overdose deaths increases across the country. Just last week, “Pawn Stars” owner Rick Harrison’s son died from a fentanyl overdose at age 39.

Dr. Stephanie Zority with Valley Oaks Medical Group told 8 News Now that fentanyl is commonly laced with other drugs and has become the most prominent narcotic in the drug supply chain.

“Fentanyl is synthetic which means it’s more potent than other opioids people used 10 to 20 years ago,” Zority explained.  

Those in long-term recovery like Guiseppe Mandell, who has been clean for 4 and half years, said the price and convenience of the lethal drug make it easy for addicts to obtain.

“It’s cheap and more effective, and more accessible,” Mandell said. “People are even smoking it.”

Dr. Zority also shared that methamphetamine has also grown in popularity over the years and will often be paired with fentanyl as a stimulant.

“I don’t think I would be alive today if fentanyl was around when I was using,” Mandell added.

Last week the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans between 18 and 49 years old.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2023 it seized more than $78.4 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in the U.S.

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