The photo accompanying a New York Times piece by Sheila Kaplan showed a harm reduction worker testing for traces of fentanyl in a heroin sample. Kaplan’s gist:

“Preliminary data from the 50 states show that from the fourth quarter of 2015, through the fourth quarter of 2016, the rate of fatal overdoses rose to nearly 20 people per 100,000 from 16.3 per 100,000. The C.D.C. had previously estimated that about 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, with the highest rates reported in New Hampshire, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Rhode Island.

“Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. In recent years, according to Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of the C.D.C. mortality statistics branch, the deaths have been driven by overdoses of synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl, rather than heroin.”

To put these numbers in perspective, check out Dale Gieringer’s essay on The Opium Exclusion Act of 1909 —”the first shot in the US War on Drugs.”