Do youth anti-drug campaigns actually work?

Programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in Charlotte use modern slang to communicate a timeless message: Drugs can kill.

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now have access to free kits that revive someone suffering an opioid overdose and test strips to see what the drugs they are about to take contain.

These steps, which assume students are using drugs, are designed to save lives, but prompt the question: Will the tactics work for today’s students?

Riley Sullivan, the group’s cofounder and director, believes the kits will actually help reduce drug use on campus. He said the group has handed out about 900 naloxone kits and 500 fentanyl test strips this semester alone.

In Charlotte, a public awareness campaign called “Street Pills Kill” uses the slang of youth to convey the same message. The phrases are the new generation of “just say no” or “above the influence.”

“No cap, those pills are sus.”

Young people use the words “no cap” to say they are telling the truth or they aren’t lying. To use the word “cap” would mean someone is lying.

“Sus” is short for suspicious.

Another sign says: “you plus street pills equals … we don’t ship.”

“Ship” means you want two people to date or enter a romantic relationship.

The language is how kids speak nowadays, but will they listen to the kind of messaging?

Remember McGruff the Crime Dog or the “this is your brain on drugs” ad of a man cracking an egg on a skillet?

You might also remember other campaigns like “truth”and “DARE” to name a few.

Continue reading “Do youth anti-drug campaigns actually work?”

‘Harm reduction’ alliance: Hey, take it easy on the fentanyl dealers

The following OpEd is from the Oct 9 edition of the Carolina Journal.

While most of North Carolina’s political observers have been focused on the long-awaited completion of the state budget, there have also been other bills progressing through the legislature — like SB 189, Fentanyl Drug Offenses and Other Related Changes, which increases fines and penalties for distributing the drug and sets up a task force to come up with new law enforcement strategies.

The bill aims to crack down on fentanyl and other powerful synthetic opioids, a positive step in an environment where over 100,000 people per year are dying of drug overdoses, including over 4,000 North Carolinians. The explosion of these deaths, which used to total around 5,000 people annually nationwide before the new millennium, has made it now the leading cause of death for adults 18-45, higher than other major causes like car accidents or heart disease. Over 70% of overdose deaths are due to fentanyl, an opioid so powerful many immediately overdose and die when they try it for the first time.

State Sens. Tom McInnis, Danny Britt, and Michael Lazzara introduced the bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in March. This week, SB 189 also passed the House, albeit with 20 Democrats voting against. Now the bill heads to the governor for his signature or veto, and at least some on the left think he should choose the latter.

Before the House vote was taken, a coalition of “harm reduction” advocates, including the NC Council of Churches, sent out a press release denouncing the bill.

“Amid State’s Worsening Overdose Crisis, Harm Reduction Advocates Argue SB189 Will Fuel Deaths and Systemic Racism,” the statement begins.

To back the claim that arresting fentanyl dealers will increase overdose deaths, the harm reducers say, “Prosecuting dealers disrupts the drug supply, leading to more preventable overdose deaths.”

This, clearly, ignores the fact that fentanyl dealing is already highly illegal, so supplies are already disrupted when they are arrested. Increasing the fines and penalties on dealers isn’t going to make much difference on that front. But it might act as a deterrent and reduce supply.

The study they cite, from NC State, looked at Haywood County after the original death-by-distribution law was implemented. Either those sending the press release didn’t read it, or they hoped the reader wouldn’t. But the study found the impact of the law was actually a lowering of overdose risk (because dealers lowered potency to avoid the serious charge) in the short term. The study did say there was a possibility of a greater risk in the longer term, but they were unsure, so their biggest takeaway was, “Our study demonstrates most conclusively that further research on the individual and community-level impacts of DIH laws is urgently needed.”

Harm-reduction proponents are fond of calling all their claims “evidence based,” but I’ve found their evidence to be paper thin, like this claim that “prosecuting dealers lead[s] to more deaths” with the study saying mostly the opposite as proof.

After presenting their weak evidence, they go on to demand action based on it: “It is time for lawmakers to recognize the failings of the Drug War, and come to the realization that we cannot punish our way out of the overdose crisis.”

Read the full article on the Carolina Journal website.

Fentanyl-related deaths among children increased more than 30-fold between 2013 and 2021

CNN — 

Fatal overdoses involving fentanyl have surged in recent years in the US and new research shows that deaths among children have increased significantly, mirroring trends among adults.

More than 5,000 children and teens have died from overdoses involving fentanyl in the past two decades, according to data published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. More than half of those deaths occurred in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were about 1,550 pediatric deaths from fentanyl in 2021 – over 30 times more than in 2013, when the wave of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids started in the US.

Watch the segment and read the full article on the CNN web site.

Where are fentanyl victims’ rights?

Drug-induced homicide killed my son

By Kristy Dyroff – – Thursday, April 27, 2023


Victims of drug-induced homicide and their affected family members are not given the resources and recognition they deserve. I know this because I am one.

Wesley, my son, was a 22-year-old college student in 2007 when he injured his knee playing football with friends. As his mother, I sent him to our family physician for care. This was when our nightmare began. My son was prescribed increasingly higher doses of opioids for the pain, caught in the spiral of greed initiated by Purdue Pharma. Our entire family struggled through his addiction as he valiantly fought his way through half a dozen rehab programs, intensive outpatient programs, halfway houses and Narcotics Anonymous. He finally found success at a faith-based, nine-month rehab program, where he developed his own faith and strength. I was overjoyed to have my kind, thoughtful, beautiful son back as the amazing gentle giant he had grown to be.

On Aug. 19, 2015, when my husband and I found him dead in his home after being sober for two years, I was devastated by the grief.

Read the full article on the Washington Times website.