Last updated: September 25, 2023
Did the Jaws theme pop into your head when Discovery started advertising Cocaine Sharks as part of its “Shark Week” line-up? Images of crazed sharks amped up on coke undoubtedly sprang to mind for some. For others, the title may have brought the movie, Cocaine Bear, to mind.
Released in early 2023, it depicts the loosely based story of a bear that came upon a duffle bag full of cocaine in a Georgia forest back in 1985. Dropped from a plane during a smuggling operation, a bear discovered the bag. It was found dead along with the shredded duffle and 40 opened containers strewn about. Poetic license reigned in the movie version, of course. The bear didn’t meet its end until after leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake.
Since we’re tracking cocaine sharks and bears, do you remember the story about the “meth gators” back in 2019? A news story went viral about alligators hyped on methamphetamine plaguing Tennessee’s waterways. The plea for Tennessee residents to stop flushing their methamphetamine down the toilet was a valid one. It’s no secret that water samples taken across the country show evidence of drugs in them. The gators, though, were a bit of an exaggeration on the part of a local police department.
It’s possible that cocaine sharks exist. They do heavily populate the drug-smuggling routes and might, by chance, eat a drug-filled bundle. But some argue that it’s highly unlikely as sharks are predators and therefore wouldn’t be attracted to inanimate objects. It would be more likely, they say, that the sharks might swim near a damaged package that had contaminated the water surrounding it. However, would it be enough to affect the shark before becoming too diluted?
There’s no question that drugs can have an adverse effect on wildlife just as they do on humans. Sensationalizing the situation isn’t changing the fact that hundreds of thousands of people die from drug overdoses in the United States every year though.
Dealing a lethal blow
Drugs are being smuggled into the country along the southern border constantly. So far this year, border patrol agents have seized 412,000 pounds of illicit drugs. We’re currently on track to blow past last year’s total of 656,000 pounds. There’s no way to determine, of course, how many pounds are making it into the country for distribution. We’re sure it’s every bit as much as is confiscated—and, far more likely over and above.
Once these drugs get into the hands of dealers, they’re often “cut” with other drugs. It gives dealers more product to sell and gives their wares an extra zing. That’s great for repeat business. Unless, of course, the customer drops dead from an overdose, which is far more likely if the “cutting” drug is fentanyl.
Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid. It only takes a minute amount—as in likened to a few grains of salt—to become a lethal dose. Clandestine laboratories in China manufacture it and cartels smuggle the drug into the United States. It’s cheap so dealers purchase it in bulk and mix it with their wares to boost the buzz. Drugs, such as methamphetamine or cocaine, become even more dangerous. When customers aren’t aware that the drugs they purchase contain fentanyl, they’re more likely to experience an overdose.
As a matter of fact, these days, fentanyl is showing up in virtually every drug being sold on the black market.
Some city governments encourage drug addicts to use the buddy system when getting high. That way if one has an overdose, there is someone around to help. That help often comes in the form of administering a dose of Narcan. Narcan temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Some cities and towns across the nation distribute Narcan to addicts as a form of combatting the influx of fentanyl-laced drugs.
Fighting back with a vengeance
Let’s not put the spotlight on cocaine sharks, meth gators, or other wildlife creating outrageous drug-related scenarios when we have a real-time crisis to stay focused on.
The battle against drug addiction seems to be growing darker as more and more lives are claimed by drug overdose each year. Some wonder what else can be done to fight.
The best course of action that we can take is to push education. When people learn their options, they can make better decisions. Teaching our kids about the dangers of drug abuse and addiction has to start earlier. Yes, it’s tough to talk about such worldly stuff with them, but the world isn’t holding back from reaching out to snatch them up.
If you operate a drug-free workplace, how long has it been since you held a class to educate your employees about the dangers of addiction and abuse? Refresher courses every so often are a good habit to get into as well. It keeps new employees in the loop, of course, but it can also give someone who struggles with substance abuse the courage to seek help.
If they come to you or your management team, how you react can affect their success. People use drugs and alcohol for a number of reasons, but they all boil down to feeling unworthy or incapable so they use a crutch to cope. The crutch often winds up controlling their lives because they get caught up in the vicious cycle of addiction. When an employee realizes they’ve reached rock bottom, having someone who shows them compassion can shine the light of hope before them.
Be that light, a beacon even, because, in the end, it’s how we win the war.