Last updated: May 22, 2023
Drug cartels are sending massive amounts of illicit drugs into our country across the open border. Worse, the synthetic opioid, fentanyl, seems to be their number one export. It’s extremely lethal and drug dealers are scooping it up because it’s so cheap. They “cut” it into their merchandise to increase their profit margin. Of course, their customers have no idea and it’s killing them—at an alarming rate.
In 2013, authorities seized 200 pounds of fentanyl—that versus 11,221 pounds in 2021.
Type the words “fentanyl” and “overdose” into your search engine and it yields page after page of news articles. Florida, a popular vacation spot for students on spring break, is seeing a spike in fentanyl overdoses. Six West Point cadets were taken to the hospital in Fort Lauderdale in mid-March after using fentanyl-laced cocaine. All of them survived.
Many don’t though. A New Jersey man was arrested for causing the death of his 12-year-old nephew when he told the boy to clean his drug paraphernalia. The boy absorbed fentanyl through his skin and overdosed. Earlier in the year in Connecticut, a 13-year-old died after reportedly being exposed to fentanyl at school. He had 40 bags of it in his possession. A search of his bedroom later revealed an additional 100 bags of the drug there.
The list could go on.
Even before the open border became an issue, some major cities across the nation started distributing Narcan to addicts. Narcan temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose giving medical personnel time to arrive on the scene.
Fentanyl test strips
When drugs contain fentanyl, it’s impossible to detect it by sight, taste, or smell. In addition to providing addicts with Narcan, some cities have established test sites. Addicts bring their drugs in for testing without fear of prosecution.
Fentanyl test strips make easy detection possible too. They are fairly new to the market but are quickly becoming a popular method for testing. You simply immerse the strip into a mixture containing a small amount of the drug in question and water obtaining the result immediately.
Is fentanyl used medically?
Scientists created fentanyl for use as an opioid pain medication. It’s reportedly 100 times stronger than morphine. An amount that equals a few grains of salt is enough to kill someone. It’s no wonder, then, that people who unknowingly ingest the drug are at extreme risk of overdosing.
It’s important to note, too, that ingesting fentanyl while pregnant could cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.
Physicians normally prescribe the narcotic in patch form. It allows the drug to slowly be absorbed through the skin. It’s used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain for extended periods of time—but only after all other methods of pain treatment have been exhausted.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is sold in pill, powder, or liquid form. It’s manufactured in China or Mexico and smuggled into the country.
Signs of overdose
Fentanyl is often found mixed into cocaine or methamphetamine, but virtually any drug can be laced with it.
Overdose symptoms may include:
- Slow breathing
- Decrease in heart rate
- Severe drowsiness
- Muscle weakness
- Cold, clammy skin
- Discolored lips or nails
- Pinpoint pupils
- Chest pain
- Nausea or vomiting
If you or someone around you is experiencing these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Or, call the Poison Help line at (800) 222-1222.
Fentanyl deaths surpass COVID
Drug use increased during the pandemic as people sought ways to cope with their anxiety and fear. That coupled with the fact that fentanyl is showing up as a contributing cause in overdose deaths along with other drugs found in the system caused fentanyl overdoses to soar to the number one cause of death for 18 to 45-year-olds in the United States.
Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 79,000 people in that age group died of fentanyl overdoses according to data gathered by the organization Families Against Fentanyl. COVID-19 deaths, as reported by the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), among that age group over the same period of time was under 54,000.
The number of people dying due to an opioid overdose steadily increased each year for two decades. It had reached epidemic proportions. Data gathered for 2019 presented the nation’s first glimmer of hope that the tide was turning as the number of opioid-related overdose deaths declined slightly. The onset of the pandemic blew the slight decline out of the water though. An estimated 105,752 Americans died of a drug overdose over the one-year period ending in October 2021.
Around two-thirds of those deaths—70,501 being the actual number—showed that synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were involved. As the effects of the pandemic linger, people are at greater risk of turning to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. That, of course, isn’t the answer.
Caleb Banta-Green, University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute principal research scientist stated, “mentally and financially depressed people are at increased risk for harms associated with opioids.” He’s calling for measures to address issues, such as wellness, poverty, and housing—all areas of concern for citizens still experiencing the devastating effects that COVID had on the nation.
We continue to fight
As fentanyl—and other illicit drugs—pour into our nation across the open border, American families suffer. People are dying and they shouldn’t be. We need to keep reaching out to society to bring awareness to the dangers of drug use. Even though it seems that everyone should know this information by now, the young, especially, are apt to take a cavalier attitude when presented with it. However, we need to keep telling them that humans aren’t as invincible as we tend to believe.
As the number of drug overdose deaths continues to rise, the “it won’t happen to me” attitude is being proven wrong every day. Education is key to prevention, however, we need to start focusing on ways to provide people with hope as well. Hope for a brighter future provides us with the strength to carry on. It can be the spark that causes an addict to put down the drugs, seek help, and vow to kick their addiction to the curb once and for all.
We’re cheering for them. Yes, we are.