The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data estimates that opioids kill more than a dozen Washingtonians every week, and politicians are slow to address the changing nature of the epidemic. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl kill more people than prescription opioids or heroin. They’re present in more than half of opioid-related overdoses.
Fentanyl isn’t hitting the streets by way of pharmacies and physicians. It’s being illegally rerouted from Mexico and China, and passes relatively undetected through U.S. mail. Since fentanyl is incredibly potent (it’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine), drug dealers use it to cut batches of other street drugs like cocaine and heroin. The CDC notes that fentanyl overdoses are often the result of people taking it unknowingly.
To curb fentanyl’s destruction, the U.S. Postal Service must get better access to package origin data, like UPS and FedEx already have. Importantly, parents, teachers, health care providers and pop culture icons must take the reins to share how dangerous fentanyl can be. We curbed illicit drug use in the ’80s, and an accurate national debate can help it happen again.
Center for Accountability in Science