RICHMOND, Va. (AP)- The number of Virginia drug overdose deaths rose again in 2021, setting a record for a second year in a row. That’s according to a report from the Virginia Department of Health.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Saturday that overdose deaths increased 15% in 2021 from the previous year, to 2,656. The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl was the driving force, causing or contributing to 76.5% of all overdose deaths in 2021. That’s an increase from 2020.

The author of the report told the newspaper drug traffickers are mixing fentanyl with other substances to make them easier and cheaper to manufacture and transport.

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