FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Fentanyl overdoses in the U.S. are now considered the number one cause of death for adults between 18 and 45 years old, according to data compiled by Families Against Fentanyl.
The synthetic and highly addictive drug has claimed more lives than COVID-19, auto crashes, gun violence, cancer and suicide in the year 2020.
"It's kickin' *explicit* and taking names, it's what it's doing. It has been so it's not surprising at all," said Denise Terryah, who knows what it's like to be entrenched in the deep dark depths of addiction.
She celebrated 10 years of sobriety this year. Her drug of choice was fentanyl.
"It's synthetic. And it's manmade, and I'm just going to say it, the high is, it's different than anything," she said.
Terryah is now a recovery coach at The Odyssey House in Flint. Each day she sees what fentanyl is doing to people.
An overwhelming majority of people, around 90% who walk in the doors of the Odyssey House test positive for fentanyl and they don't even know it.
"They're getting heroin, cocaine, whatever they're looking for. It's even being pressed in Xanax. It's being pressed in pills also," she said.
Fentanyl's illegal and lethal presence in the U.S. only seems to be getting worse.
The number of fentanyl deaths in the U.S. doubled from around 32,000 to 64,000 between April 2019 and April 2021. The drug has taken just shy of 80,000 people's lives between January 2020 and December 2021.
It's Terryah's mission and countless others out there to get people the help they need. She knows the grass is a heck of a lot greener on the other side.
Getting there takes hard work, but people don't have to do it alone, Terryah said.
"Any one of us here will talk to you, help you, steer you in the right direction. If this place isn't what you need, we'll send you somewhere else, we can help you with all that stuff," she said.
As for this year, overall drug overdose deaths are expected to surpass 100,000, according to preliminary data from the CDC. This represents a 28% increase between April 2020 and April this year.