Fentanyl now the biggest killer of Americans 18 to 45 years old

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 7:42 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s being called a national emergency.

The number one killer of adults 18 to 45 years old may shock you.

It’s the potent opioid fentanyl.

Fentanyl has killed more people in this age group than Covid-19, car accidents, cancer and suicide in 2020 and 2021, according to the local group Families Against Fentanyl.

For one father fighting to stop it, it’s personal.

The calls keep coming in for first responders.

Another drug overdose. Many of them are deadly.

Drug overdose deaths reached a record high in 2021 and fentanyl deaths continue to sky rocket.

19 Investigates found 175 people die from fentanyl poisoning every day in the U.S.

Most of those deaths were people between 18 and 45 years old, according to Families Against Fentanyl.

They analyzed data on top causes of death from the CDC.

Graphics from Families Against Fentanyl show a spike in fentanyl deaths.
Graphics from Families Against Fentanyl show a spike in fentanyl deaths.(WOIO)

“That’s like loading up a jumbo jet filled with college students or young adults and crashing it every day and there’s no outcry,” said Jim Rauh of Akron.

Rauh lost his son Tom at 37-years-old to a fentanyl overdose.

“My son Tom was just what you would expect of a wonderful son. He was born when I was 21, so we grew up together a lot,” he said.

Tom didn’t know something much deadlier was hidden in the heroin he was taking.

After he died, Rauh started Families Against Fentanyl.

Tom Rauh died from a fentanyl overdose.
Tom Rauh died from a fentanyl overdose.(Rauh family)

They combed through recent CDC data and found a grimmer picture of the opioid epidemic than he could ever imagine.

Nearly 79,000 people 18 to 45 years old died of fentanyl overdoses between 2020 and 2021.

“It’s getting worse. It’s nearly doubled in two years, and it’s going to go beyond that,” Rauh said.

So Rauh continues to fight in his son’s name.

“I’m going to see that this doesn’t happen to my family, my friends, my love—the country that I love. It’s part of my duty to do this, to protect my citizenry,” he said.

Rauh is asking the federal government to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction, giving investigators more resources to fight the problem.

More than 700 drug overdose deaths are projected in Cuyahoga County this year.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University say we’re in the middle of the next wave of opioid overdose deaths, and Cleveland is at the epicenter of this national epidemic.

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