Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid drug that kills hundreds of Texans every year, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
Doctors can prescribe fentanyl to treat severe pain after surgery or for late-stage cancer. Most recent cases of fentanyl overdose are happening with illicit fentanyl, according to the CDC.
Fentanyl can be mixed into cocaine and methamphetamines and can be found in nasal sprays or eye drops. It can also be mixed in counterfeit pills that look like other prescription opioids, according to the CDC. As a result, people can ingest fentanyl without knowing, leading to accidental poisoning and even death.
Depending on a person’s weight and drug history, consuming even two milligrams of fentanyl—twice the weight of a paperclip—can be fatal.
Last year in both North and South Carolina, federal officers seized 18.75 pounds of the synthetic opioid. That’s more than they located the previous two years combined.
At least 2,500 North Carolinians died from fentanyl overdoses last year, according to the latest state data out this month. The data is only through September of 2022 as the state’s Department of Health and Human Services is still processing information for last year so it is likely this number will climb even higher.
The synthetic drug is now a major focus for law enforcement agencies across the state as it continues devastating communities in and families.
Over the last five years, the number of people dying from overdoses increased significantly. Fatal overdoses in North Carolina jumped 66% from 2018, state data shows. Last year, the crisis claimed the lives of more than 4200 people in the state.
“Fentanyl is really the most dangerous thing that we’ve seen in decades,” said Mike Prado, the deputy special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in the Carolinas.
Republican Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter introduced legislation Tuesday that would classify Americans who died of fentanyl poisoning as crime victims.
The Daily Caller first obtained the legislation, which is titled the Recognizing Victims of Illicit Fentanyl Poisoning Act. The bill would add individuals who have died because of illicit fentanyl poisoning to the list of recognized victims maintained by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund, which supports programs and services that focus on helping victims in the immediate aftermath of crimes and continuing to support them as they rebuild their lives.
The opioid epidemic has continued to plague the U.S. as new threats such as fentanyl spread across the country, placing the nation’s veterans on the front lines of a new kind of war.
“I’ve seen many post-9/11 veterans become addicts due to mental health,” Chelsea Simoni, a clinical nurse researcher and the founder of the Hunterseven Foundation, told Fox News Digital. “I’ve coded many young post-9/11 veterans in the ERs for opiate overdoses. I’ve seen mental health crises from addiction.”
Substance abuse among active duty military and veterans has been an issue policymakers have attempted to tackle for years, with service members being one of the country’s most vulnerable populations – in large part because of the stresses to their mental health in military service. According to a Department of Veterans Affairs estimate, roughly 20% of veterans being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder also struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.
Members of the military are also more likely to suffer physical injuries as part of their duties, a reality that often leads to troops being prescribed highly addictive painkillers.