Earlier this month, federal health officials announced that fentanyl passed heroin as the deadliest drug in America. This development is equal parts disturbing and unsurprising, considering the accelerated pace at which the opioid crisis currently thrives. Pair this notion with the small dosages needed to make the drug lethal (commonly illustrated via comparison to a penny), and fentanyl’s newfound threat level is far from shocking — even when stacked up against the horrific addiction process associated with heroin (in some cases, the two drugs are even “cut” together).
The path leading to this current fentanyl situation has been an undulating one, with several attempts at additional regulation and risk mitigation apparently proving ineffective, though mostly well intentioned — and this has happened, in part, due to a collection of subsequent diversions and distractions that have only complicated the issue. Be this as it may, the reality is we must remain forward thinking with regards to the fentanyl crisis, as it is clearly only increasing in both frequency and deadliness. It is important that, during the new year, we double down on effective solutions and remain as focused as possible in the process.
Facing the issue
It could be argued that our nation has already directly addressed the opioid epidemic on a variety of fronts, and that a prevailing solution simply has yet to be found, but have we truly done so? For much of the past decade alone, the issue has been shamelessly politicized and bloated with the aforementioned wedge issues, keeping us distracted with irrelevant side conversations. Local politicians have gone to great lengths to “not criminalize addiction” by stemming arrests and prosecutions for drug possession. However, law enforcement sources have condemned this practice as, for every possessor of these deadly drugs, there was someone who sold them illicitly; with less and less narcotics enforcement taking place in our nation’s most vulnerable areas.