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Why fentanyl is so popular and so dangerous — and what we can do to help

The National Institutes of Health report deaths from drug overdoses rose between 2019 and 2021, with more than 106,000 overdose deaths reported in 2021. Of those, more than 70,000 were from synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl.

In Arizona, more than 2,000 residents died from opioid overdoses in 2021, and the state Department of Health Services reported fentanyl as the most common drug in those deaths.

While those numbers are more than a year old now, the problem of fentanyl overdoses and deaths is not going away.

The Show spoke with two local experts about the problem and potential solutions.

Frank LoVecchio works at Valleywise Health as well as ASU and UA. He’s board certified in emergency medicine and addiction medicine, among other things.

Matt Evans is a physician specializing in the field of addiction medicine. He works for New Hope Behavioral Health Center, Valle del Sol, and other places.

LoVecchio began by breaking down the science of fentanyl — how it’s similar and different from other street drugs that have led to epidemics.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.