Fentanyl use, drug overdoses continuing to climb in U.S.

Ron Craig

        As the use of fentanyl continues to climb, so does the number of overdose deaths. It is no surprise that these two statistics are closely intertwined.
        Deaths by drug overdose, particularly by those under the age of 25, have for the last two years been over 100,000 per year nationally. It has overtaken all other causes of death for that same age bracket. It has even now exceeded vehicle crashes as the nation’s biggest killer of our young people.
        Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is mainly used in legitimate medical purposes as an analgesic (pain killer) and is used by medical professionals as a sedative and an anesthetic. It has been said to be up to 50 times more potent than heroin and up to 100 times as potent as morphine. It can come in a liquid or a solid form.
        A single dose is only as big as the point on a pencil.
        Fentanyl is cheap to make and the illegal forms of the drug that are found in the United States come mainly from Mexico, and, to a lesser extent, from China. It is smuggled into our country in many ways, but the predominant method is to have “mules” bring it across the border.
        Fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs, and a popular way the cartels distribute it is in a pill form. Because of this, most people who ingest it never know they are taking fentanyl.
        Drug dealers like mixing fentanyl with other drugs because the high the user gets is so potent it makes the users want more of it. The mixing of fentanyl with these other drugs is part of the reason it is so deadly.
        Several years ago, when I was with Bloomville Police Department, I served on an anti-drug abuse committee for Seneca County. It was during one of these committee meetings that I heard the best analogy to describe mixing fentanyl with other drugs:
        If you take salt and pepper and try to mix them, no matter how hard you try, you can’t help but have an end product that has “pockets” of salt (fentanyl). If you’re the unlucky one that ends up with a pill that has this high concentration, you are likely not going to survive the incident. Of course, the dealers don’t care who dies.
        Although it is impossible to rid our streets of fentanyl, we must not give up trying.
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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