I just listened to a podcast on Apple News with Scott Higha, an investigative reporter who has done a great deal of research on the expansion of use of fentanyl. In this podcast, more alarming news about fentanyl was revealed from his investigation. Quite frankly, this is a dangerous and potent drug we all need to be concerned about.
In 2021, about 107,000 Americans died from fentanyl overdoses, which is about 1 person every 7 minutes. When I think of all the grief, loss, emotional damage and dysfunction that surrounds these deaths, the irreversible impact is tragic. The problem is serious and demands a significant response from all of us.
This is a phenomenon that started with the opioid crisis. I remember several years ago we provided a training video where we surfaced that concern. Since then, prescription opioids have emerged that have led to more underground drugs that can be purchased on the black market. Since that time, the Mexican cartels have found that a drug like fentanyl can be manufactured synthetically and inexpensively. The profit margins on fentanyl are very high. It’s easily manufactured and transported, and our border control officers are overwhelmed with how much is crossing our southern border. This drug is killing thousands of Americans in epidemic proportions and it is ever-increasing.
One of the significant facts about fentanyl is that once it is transported into our country, drug dealers use it to enhance the potency by lacing their recreational drugs. This creates more euphoria and addictive capacity of drugs like cocaine or heroin. Since there is no measurement or knowledge about how powerful fentanyl can be, someone taking recreational drugs can easily overdose and die due to a respiratory crisis.
When teenagers or adults attend a party, what used to be a drug that would be considered recreational now can be fatal. Although we would hope our teens would not experiment that way, the stakes just got very serious and the danger much higher than ever before. Our teens need to be aware that they could take a pill or drink something at a party and end up in an overdose crisis.
I remember years ago, an expert in this field said something to me that was very simple but also very profound. We will win the drug war when we stop the demand! That is, if we can get individuals to stop using these drugs, then there would be no profit for the drug traffickers.
I think COVID has taken much of our attention in these past few years. Even though that’s understandable, we must not give up our fight against these killer drugs and how they’re tragically ending too many lives. It’s become a national crisis that should be a significant priority to resolve.
We need to provide support for our border patrol staff. We need to work as parents and school staff to educate our children as early as possible about the danger of drugs. We need to provide better systems of care for addictions.
And we need to be outraged to the point where we demand our politicians be involved with funding, laws and support for those who are in this fight to protect our citizens and our teenagers. It will take a great deal of political will, strategy and fortitude to win this devastating war on fentanyl. It’s my hope we will be passionate to mitigate this crisis by reenergizing our war on drugs with fervor and determination. The lives of so many depend on it.