The U.S. is now in the midst of the third wave of the opioid overdose epidemic that started in 1999 and has killed over 300,000 people, according to a Sept. 1 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first wave of deaths, from 1999 to 2010, involved prescription opioids, while deaths involving heroin dominated the second wave that began in 2010. The CDC identifies a third wave starting in 2013, characterized by deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is more dangerous to use than heroin. The new trend is particularly evident in the Northeast, Midwest and South, according to data in the CDC report.
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