“Last year, the United States suffered more fentanyl-related deaths than gun-related and auto-related deaths combined.”
In life, as in society, there are always problems.
“There are no solutions, only tradeoffs,” as a wise man once said, and it’s true. The Law of Unintended Consequences is immutable and everything has consequences. Even doing the right thing has consequences; especially doing the right thing.
But in society, as in life, it is frequently the obstacles you don’t see that get you in the end. There are dozen old adages, and we could always add a few more: “It’s the stone you don’t see that trips you.”
In David Burr Gerard’s seminal work of fiction, “The Epiphany Machine”, a magical tattoo machine reveals every person’s major stumbling block by tattooing it on their forearms.
Even then, in fiction, as in life, we don’t see the truth- we don’t want to. We don’t see the threat, we don’t sense the real danger until it’s too late. For whatever reason, other things are distracting us.
While the saber-toothed tiger crouches in the bushes ready to pounce, we are concerned about getting the grass seed down before the spring rains really start in earnest.
When the walloping comes at last, when our two left feet hit that rake, which snaps up and knocks us into the ground face first, we are left as shocked from the shock as we are from the blow.
So while society has been grousing about who is to blame for the rising inflation and higher prices weighing so heavily on everyone’s mind, a leviathan lurks beneath the surface of our resentment and irritation.
There is one thing most politicians and elected officials spend almost no time talking about, but which impacts the lives of millions of Americans: America’s growing deadly drug crisis.
Crack cocaine had its heyday; methamphetamines have ruined many a promising life; America’s opioid crisis has been enough to make the heavens weep: Have we ever seen anything like fentanyl?
This new crisis, the new war on drugs, unlike the old war on drugs, isn’t a moral question as to whether or not people should or should not use drugs. It isn’t about whether or not adult Americans should be permitted by their government to use drugs if they wish. It isn’t a debate over treatment or punishment being a better detergent for drug addiction.
This is about a new drug on the block, fentanyl, and a recent influx of it that the DEA warns is resulting in major “mass-overdose events.” The DEA also warns that enough fentanyl came over the U.S. southern border in 2021 to kill every man, woman and child in America.
On April 6, the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration sent out a memo to law enforcement agencies nationwide alerting them to a dangerous new trend.
“The DEA is seeing a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events involving three or more overdoses occurring close in time at the same location,” the letter warned grimly. “In just the past two months, there have been at least 7 confirmed mass overdose events across the United States.”
“Many of the victims of these mass overdose events thought they were ingesting cocaine and had no idea that they were in fact ingesting fentanyl,” the DEA told affiliated law enforcement agencies.
The DEA’s timeline is grim:
January 28, 2022: “10 individuals overdosed, 9 of whom died, within the same city block in Washington, D.C. after ingesting crack-cocaine laced with fentanyl.”
February 5–7, 2022: “8 individuals overdosed, 7 of whom died, at an apartment complex in St. Louis, Missouri after ingesting crack cocaine laced with fentanyl.”
February 6, 2022: “4 individuals overdosed, 2 of whom died, in the same apartment complex in Omaha, Nebraska after ingesting a substance that they believed was cocaine, but contained fentanyl.”
February 10, 2022: “6 individuals overdosed, 5 of whom died, in the same apartment in Commerce City, Colorado after ingesting a substance that they believed was pure cocaine, but was in fact pure fentanyl.”
March 3, 2022: “3 individuals overdosed and died in a hotel room in Cortez, Colorado after ingesting what they believed were 30mg oxycodone pills, but which were in fact fake prescription pills containing fentanyl.”
March 4, 2022: “21 individuals overdosed, 3 of whom died, at a homeless shelter in downtown Austin, Texas after ingesting crack cocaine and methamphetamine laced with fentanyl.”
March 10, 2022: “6 individuals overdosed at a rental property in Wilton Manors, Florida after being exposed to a substance that they believed was cocaine, but contained fentanyl.”
“Tragic events like these are being driven by fentanyl,” the DEA letter read. “Fentanyl is highly-addictive, found in all 50 states, and drug traffickers are increasingly mixing it with other types of drugs- in powder and pill form- in an effort to drive addiction and attract repeat buyers.”
“These mass-overdose events typically occur in one of the following recurring scenarios: when drug dealers sell their product as ‘cocaine’, when it actually contains fentanyl; or when drug dealers sell fake prescription pills designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions- such as OxyContin®, Percocet ®, or Vicodin®- that are actually fake prescription pills containing fentanyl,” according to DEA officials.
“This is creating a frightening nationwide trend where many overdose victims are dying after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl,” they warn. “Fentanyl is driving the nationwide overdose epidemic: the CDC estimates that in the 12-month period ending in October 2021, over 105,000 Americans died of drug overdoses and over 66% of those deaths were related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.”
“Last year, the United States suffered more fentanyl-related deaths than gun-related and auto-related deaths combined,” the DEA reminds us.
While covid probably isn’t done with us, and injustice persists in America, the national fentanyl crisis is shaping up to be worse than the crack-cocaine and opioid epidemics combined.
The sooner elected officials can turn their attention to reducing the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., the safer.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)