Ending the Year with Fentanyl
This is a photo from the Washington Post:
Prior to 2022, I knew lots of parents who’d lost someone to fentanyl. This year I know twice as many. You may think this blog post doesn’t apply to you and skip it. Before you do, if you have any young adults, teens or children aged ten or over in your life, consider reading this for their benefit.
Some people don’t realize that many people with substance use disorder choose to use fentanyl because it’s potent, easy to find, and cheap. Keven had switched to it at least a year before he died. Some people are using illicit substances that laced with it. And some people take pills that have not been prescribed to them that are fake and contain fentanyl.
No matter how or why it happens, it's creating a huge hole in the heart of this nation.
Here’s an excerpt from my new book, Talk to Me I'm Grieving, on the topic:
Drug overdoses have killed around a million people since 1999. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 96,779 deaths occurred between March 2020 and March 2021 alone.
Imagine each of those people leaving behind parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Millions are grieving this type of loss, yet if you are one of them, you may feel alone. Finding others that could relate helped me so much after I lost Anthony.
The misunderstanding and judgment continues to surround substance use disorder/addiction. Mental health issues go hand in hand with substance use disorder more often than not. This stigma applies to anyone who suffers from mental illness as well.
Losing someone in this way is similar to losing someone to suicide because, again, people are quick to blame, judge, and distance themselves from the family and the person who died. There’s a lack of empathy for overdose deaths that leaves loved one's even more heartbroken and hurt.
With drug overdose death, the assumption is that the person knew they were taking a risk. Therefore, they believe addicts are pursuing self-destructive pleasure and deserve no sympathy. There’s also the criminal stereotype attached to drug addiction that makes some people less sympathetic.
With fentanyl, I’ve noticed more sympathy because many fentanyl deaths we hear about most are high school age or young adults who didn’t know they were taking something laced with the deadly drug.”
It's often called poisoning or murder to take any blame off the person who died. I understand this. For parents like me, we suffered for years watching our children struggling through addiction. For a parent that had no idea their child was experimenting with drugs or taking pills from friends, they are blindsided. I can see why they feel the need to call it murder or poisoning, even if that wasn’t the intention.
Unfortunately, arresting drug dealers is not solving the problem. Drug dealers have been on our streets for decades. It's nothing new. Doctors became "drug dealers" when OxyContin became available - some of them are sitting in prison right now.
The dealers haven’t changed, their end goal is still money. It's the drugs that are different. If a dealer sells laced pills or adds fentanyl to another substance, they know they are risking someone’s life because there is no way to judge what amount is in each pill. They will let that happen because they actually make more customers from fentanyl than they did from heroin, due to how easy it is to become addicted to it and how cheap it is to supply.
Before fentanyl, dealers took the same risk with heroin or other drugs. Anyone could accidentally overdose and die. It was a risk user and dealer knew existed.
What’s the answer? Is it to get rid of the drug dealers or get rid of the fentanyl?
Or, is it to make sure that every single person above the age of ten years old knows that they might die if they take drugs that weren’t prescribed to them? With the huge campaign against fentanyl, there should be plenty of awareness by now, but people are still dying either out of disbelief that it could happen to them, desperation for a high, or youthful curiosity.
I am not big on conspiracy theories but I find it interesting that we get our fentanyl from China. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has evidence that China is the primary source of illicit fentanyl in our country:
“Drug traffickers use two primary techniques for delivering fentanyl manufactured in China: It is either shipped directly into the U.S. via international mail or shipped into Mexico to be smuggled into America.
Fentanyl is a unique drug in several ways. The profit margin is remarkable: A $3,000 investment can produce $1,500,000 in earnings.
A laboratory-made drug, fentanyl requires less time and space to produce than its agricultural counterpart, heroin. Chemists can manufacture fentanyl in small labs and use easy shipment methods.
The amount of fentanyl necessary to produce its painkilling effect is so small that manufacturers can ship it in ordinary packages such as envelopes used for ordinary letters.”
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Let’s make this our motto for the upcoming year:
“Fentanyl Free in 2023”
Our government hasn’t stopped it coming in, so our only hope seems to be educating and convincing people that they should not take even one pill that is not prescribed directly to them by their own doctor.
I know, I know - another depressing blog post from me. I usually write about what I’m most passionate about and I don’t get worked up over all the good stuff that happens.
If you’re a regular reader here -
THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!
I get nervous every time I hit “publish” but you keep coming back for more. If you’re a new reader, thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you will find something useful here.
Please have a safe and joyful New Year’s celebration with your family and friends.