(West Virginia University) If heroin is coffee, fentanyl is espresso. Just as a miniscule cup of espresso can hype you up more than a whole mug of coffee, a single exposure to fentanyl can get a user vastly higher than injecting the same volume of heroin. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin.

In a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, West Virginia University researchers Gordon Smith, Marie Abate and Zheng Dai found that fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise in West Virginia, even as deaths related to prescription opioids decline.

By analyzing all drug-related deaths in the state from 2005 to 2017, the research team–which included medical examiners from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources–discovered that between 2015 and 2017, deaths from fentanyl were 122 percent of what they were between 2005 and 2014.

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