Officials keep combating the opioid crisis, but fentanyl continues to flood into the U.S.
Fentanyl is a growing problem all across the United States, and in 2022, California saw a significant increase. According to Governor Gavin Newsom and his office, last year, officials confiscated 28,265 pounds of this drug. This is a 594 percent increase when compared to 2021. The powerful synthetic drug is up to 100 times more deadly than morphine and was originally approved as an end-stage cancer painkiller. It has since been diverted for illicit use.
The amount of fentanyl confiscated is enough to kill all the people in North America twice over, according to state officials. To combat this, Gavin Newsom has put more than 1 billion dollars towards fighting not only this synthetic opioid problem but the overall opioid crisis, in general. More than 450 million will be allocated to the current fiscal year alone.
States who have yet to allocate money to the opioid crisis need to, and those who have already distributed funds to curtail the problem will need to continually increase funding because of the growing number of fentanyl users. The drug is mostly manufactured in Mexico, making it particularly easy to pass through borders. Some of the drug’s components are also manufactured in China and have made their way through customs.
It’s important to note that the original pharmaceutical, legal version of fentanyl can be very different from the llicit drug being in Mexico. Often, street fentanyl is laced with other drugs. When this happens, its potency increases further and the drug becomes especially deadly. Heroin users routinely purchase heroin laced with fentanyl, sometimes unaware that their drug of choice has been mixed with the synthetic. As a result, overdose deaths have skyrocketed.
Fentanyl has a similar look to heroin, so it’s understandable how it’s easy to disguise one as the other or mix the two. When injected or otherwise ingested, fentanyl will cause several physical changes in the body. These include:
- Short and temporary intense feelings of euphoria
- Reduced blood pressure and respiration
For some, all it takes is one hit for them to overdose and lose their life. This is why the growing fentanyl epidemic is so dangerous and why states like California have tried their best to get ahead of the problem. The younger generation is the one who especially needs this help. Peer pressure
has been around for ages, but adding the internet to the mix has caused an influx of teen drug users hoping to “fit in” and able to easily secure their stash.
When the large amount of fentanyl was confiscated, California took about 230 million dollars from drug dealers. This is the estimated street value. It is a big blow to those who deal with opioids, and offers some hope for reducing the state’s overdose rate, which is currently responsible for one-fifth of deaths of people in the 15 to 24 age group. Every year the drug abuse problem grows, so what California is attempting to do is a step in the right direction.