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Proportion of deaths co-involving methamphetamine and heroin or fentanyl peaked at 61.2 percent in 2021

Methamphetamine-related mortality increased 50-fold from 1999 to 2021, and the proportion of deaths co-involving heroin or fentanyl also increased, according to a study published online Feb. 2 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Rachel A. Hoopsick, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and R. Andrew Yockey, Ph.D., from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, obtained data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) Multiple Causes of Death database for deaths involving methamphetamine and deaths involving both methamphetamine and heroin or fentanyl among U.S. residents aged 15 to 74 years. Trends in the methamphetamine mortality rate and the proportion of deaths with heroin or fentanyl co-involvement were examined.

The researchers found a 50-fold increase in the methamphetamine mortality rate from 1999 to 2021. In addition, the proportion of deaths co-involving heroin or fentanyl increased, peaking at 61.2 percent in 2021.

“Our results show that both the age-adjusted methamphetamine mortality rate and co-involvement of heroin or fentanyl were the greatest in 2021, with neither trend showing any sign of abatement,” the authors write. “These findings underscore the need to develop, implement, and expand the availability and accessibility of robust harm reduction services, with particular attention to polysubstance use.”

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