America’s fentanyl crisis

Google image. A photo of a random assortment of drugs, as mentioned in the article. Fentanyl, adderall, and other pill drugs.

Google image. A photo of a random assortment of drugs, as mentioned in the article. Fentanyl, adderall, and other pill drugs.

Emily Anderson, Contributing Writer

America is experiencing a drug epidemic involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl that has affected all 50 states and is only expected to worsen, according to the Center for Disease Control. A few grains can be lethal, making it the most potent opioid ever created, 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and heroin.

The number of deaths involving fentanyl increased by 56% between 2019 and 2020, according to the CDC. This drug could be laced in heroin, meth, cocaine or even disguised as prescription drugs such as Adderall.

The Drug Enforcement Administration stated in a press release, “Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.”

Since the COVID pandemic, a record number of Americans have died from drug overdoses with fentanyl accounting for more than half of those deaths. Many of those who died thought they were taking another drug, but it was tainted with a lethal amount of fentanyl. 

The only antidote that can reverse the effects of a fentanyl overdose is Naloxone, also known as Narcan. This epidemic has begun to affect children and young adults and in some counties, Narcan is being distributed in schools K-12. 

Additional resources, such as testing strips, have become accessible as more people have become aware of this problem. The use of fentanyl testing strips, which are a relatively inexpensive method of drug testing, could contribute to a reduction in the number of injuries and fatalities.  

When fentanyl is added, users experience a faster withdrawal from their highs than with other opioids. As a result, they are more likely to return to the dealer, increasing the dealer’s profits. In some of the fatal cases, the dealer claimed they were unaware that fentanyl had been added.

Fentanyl was originally used to alleviate severe pain during or after surgery, but it is now being sold on the streets. According to US border control, fentanyl is now being seized more frequently than in the past. In 2021, 11,000 pounds of the drug were seized at the Mexican border; since then, the number has risen to 20,000 pounds.

This year, the Riverside County of California seized enough fentanyl to kill its entire county and the entire population of California, twice. 

“Please don’t be naive to the fact that fentanyl lives in almost every drug out there and its powerful effects do not discriminate,” Riverside County Sheriff, Chad Bianco, said in a press conference.