- Opioid overdose is the leading cause of death in 18-45 year-olds, with 70% from the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
- Every 8.57 minutes, someone dies from an opioid overdose. Rahul Gupta, Director of National Drug Control Policy.
- Fentanyl is killing more young Americans than Covid-19. Rep. Greg Murphy, M.D. (N.C.)
- 107,000 people in the U.S. have died from illicit drugs in 2021.
On February 15, 2023, I watched a Senate Hearing led by Senator Robert Menendez ( D-N.J.) on PBS.org regarding fentanyl. This Senate hearing outlined the supply chain that brings drugs to the United States.
- Chemicals are mass-produced in China and are sent to Mexico where cartels make them into fentanyl powder and press out drugs that often look like prescription pills. There are two cartels in Mexico that control the operations. Money laundering is involved. Because the border is not secure, it’s easy to transport fentanyl into the United States through the U.S.-Mexican border.
- Because fentanyl is so powerful, it can be smuggled in tiny quantities. Anne Milgram, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, attests that a miniscule amount of fentanyl that would cover a pencil point would be enough to kill someone.
- Fentanyl is cheaper than heroin, but nearly 50 times as potent and 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported last year, in 75 percent of cocaine deaths and 50% of methamphetamine deaths, the drugs were mixed with fentanyl.The price of fentanyl on the street has dropped 50 percent affecting an influx in supply.
Problems Regulating Illicit Drugs
- Tough to control ports of entry and U.S.-Mexico border.
- President Biden talks with China about microchips and trade, but not about China making fentanyl precursors in their labs.
- Senator Robert Menendez says “fentanyl is the crisis we cannot solve within our borders.”
- Ambassador Todd Robinson, an Assistant Secretary for the Narcotics Bureau of the State Department, admitted that China was not cooperating with the United States to solve the problem.
- Dr. Gupta opines that “this is a new era of drug trafficking and it requires a new area of drug policy.”
- Dr. Milgram confirms that “fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced.”
- The veterinary tranquilizer Xylazine known as “tranq” can be purchased at low prices from Chinese suppliers. It is typically mixed with fentanyl to save money, according to the Wall Street Journal Article “A Veterinary Drug is Worsening Fentanyl Crisis, 2/13/23“. The overdose-reversal drug naloxone doesn’t work against xylazine. Xylazine eats away your skin.
- Lack of money to support approximately 46 million people with substance abuse disorders in communities. Gupta
Milgram Calls Social Media the Super Highway of Drugs
One would think that a dealer would not want to kill his client with fentanyl – one less “repeat” customer. However, due to the convenience of a computer, dealers can now business online and deliver to the user’s door. This happened to podcast Laura Berman’s son Sam in California. He thought he ordered Percocet and Xanax on Snapchat.
The pills resembled the ones Samuel knew. Stuck at home during Covoid, he swallowed a Xanax that contained Fentanyl. He instantly died in his basement. Psst! Want Some Drugs? It’s a Simple Click Away on Your Computer
Hope For The Future
- Naloxone, the opioid-reversing drug better known as Narcan, is becoming more available. FDA panel recommends making opioid overdose antidote available over the counter.
- Fentanyl tests strips are still not available in states like Texas and Florida.
- However, BTNX Inc., a Canadian biotechnology company that also makes fentanyl strips is working to introduce Xylazine test strips.
- President Biden in his State of the Union message urged to stop fentanyl’s production, sale and trafficking with more detection machines, inspections of cargo, and stopping pills and powder (to make pills) at the border.
- Harm Reduction Centers are springing up in cities like Manhattan. As only 10% of those with substance abuse disorders seek treatment to get sober, these harm reduction centers are having success in keeping active users alive while supervising their current drug usage at the centers.
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.