RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — For the first time in six years, fatal drug overdoses in the state are on the decline, according to a new report from the Virginia Department of Health.
The opioid epidemic had been the driving force behind the fatal drug overdoses in Virginia, killing more people than car accidents and gunfire.
In total, 1,484 died of a drug overdose here in Virginia last year. That’s down 3.4 percent from the 1,534 people — the state’s all-time high — who died that way the year before.
Still, there are signs that this opioid crisis is far from over.
The total number of fatal fentanyl-related drug overdoses has sharply increased since 2012, from 50 deaths to 813 last year.
According to health officials and law enforcement, a lot of the opioids now sold on the street are laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.
The report also found 97 percent of the fatal fentanyl overdoses were due to illegal versions of the drug.