Border Patrol agents seized enough fentanyl in 2023 alone to kill every American citizen as the country grapples with the consequences of President Joe Biden’s open border policies.
Now, the White House is urging schools to stock up on Narcan amid a surging number of fentanyl deaths among American children.
In a letter addressed to U.S. school officials, President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged administrators to begin keeping naloxone on hand and to train teachers on how to administer the drug if a student starts overdosing on or is poisoned by fentanyl.
In the midst of this fentanyl overdose epidemic, it is important to focus on measures to prevent youth drug use and ensure that every school has naloxone and has prepared its students and faculty to use it. Studies show that naloxone access can reduce overdose death rates, that its availability does not lead to increases in youth drug use, and that it causes no harm if used on a person who is not overdosing on opioids. It is important to note that individuals should not be afraid to administer naloxone, as most states have Good Samaritan Laws protecting bystanders who aid at the scene of an overdose. Our schools are on the frontlines of this epidemic, but our teachers and students can be equipped with tools to save lives.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, three students stand behind a card table covered in naloxone injection kits. When a curious student leans in and asks what the kits are for, Caroline Clodfelter, one of the co-founders of the student group running the table, explains: “It will reverse an opioid overdose. … So let’s say you’re going out to a frat — stick it in your pocket. It’s easy to just have on you.”
Nearly 600 miles away, at the State University of New York’s Delhi campus, Rebecca Harrington, who works in student affairs, has also been tabling to prevent fentanyl overdoses. Her table, though, is full of colorful cups, a water jug and candies in zip-close bags — tools for her demonstration on how to use a fentanyl test strip. These test strips allow students to see whether a pill has been laced with the deadly synthetic opioid.
Test strips and naloxone are becoming more and more common on college campuses, and at least one health department has recommended they be added to school packing lists. For students who didn’t bring their own, many campuses are handing them out at welcome fairs, orientation events or campus health centers.
As more teens overdose on fentanyl, schools face a drug crisis unlike any other Fentanyl was involved in the vast majority of teen overdose deaths in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly a quarter of those deaths involved counterfeit pills that weren’t prescribed by a doctor. And the problem has been following teens onto college campuses.
Students may think they’re taking pills like oxycodone, Xanax or Vicodin. Instead, those pills often have fentanyl in them, resulting in overdoses on campuses across the U.S., from Ohio to Colorado to Oregon. At UNC-Chapel Hill, three students died from fentanyl poisoning in just the last two years.
Raleigh, North Carolina- In a significant move aimed at combatting the alarming rise in drug-related fatalities, North Carolina’s General Assembly has passed Senate Bill 189, which has now been signed into law by NC Governor Roy Copper. The legislation, driven by a collaboration between lawmakers and law enforcement agencies, revises existing statutes pertaining to “Death by Distribution” of controlled substances. According to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Department, this crucial step in the fight against drug-related deaths has garnered strong support from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, highlighting its high-priority status.
The passage of Senate Bill 189 signifies a collective commitment to addressing the grave consequences of drug distribution, mainly when it results in loss of life. The bill introduces key changes to the existing legal framework.
Among the noteworthy provisions of Senate Bill 189 are:
1. Stricter Penalties: The bill strengthens penalties for individuals found guilty of distributing controlled substances that lead to a fatal overdose. These penalties are intended to serve as a deterrent against drug dealers who knowingly engage in activities that can result in death.
2. Enhanced Law Enforcement Powers: The legislation empowers law enforcement agencies to take more proactive measures in tracking down and prosecuting those responsible for distributing drugs that lead to fatalities. This includes expanded investigatory tools and resources.
3. Increased Accountability: Senate Bill 189 underscores the importance of holding drug dealers accountable for their actions by imposing harsher penalties. This accountability extends not only to those directly involved in distribution but also to individuals associated with the distribution network.
4. Education and Prevention: The bill recognizes the need for a multifaceted approach to address the opioid crisis. It allocates resources for education and prevention programs aimed at reducing the demand for controlled substances and promoting awareness of the dangers associated with their use.
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association has been a vocal advocate for Senate Bill 189, emphasizing the critical role that law enforcement plays in safeguarding communities from the devastating impact of drug-related deaths. Their support underscores the urgency of addressing the ongoing opioid crisis, which has claimed countless lives across the state.
As the legislation goes into effect, North Carolina law enforcement agencies will have a more potent set of tools to combat controlled substance distribution, especially when it leads to fatalities. The hope is that these measures will not only serve as a deterrent but also contribute to saving lives and curbing the opioid epidemic.
Members of the public, local news media, and communities are encouraged to review the attached news release for a more comprehensive understanding of the changes brought about by Senate Bill 189.
Fentanyl isn’t only arriving in the U.S. by your standard-fare drug smuggler, hiding it in suitcases and the back seat of a go-fast boat from Mexico bound for San Diego. It’s still coming in via U.S. mail and other international shippers. And it comes in duty-free. Barring drug-sniffing dogs at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities catching the wayward package shipped usually from China and Mexico, duty-free entry remains a small but active way of getting the killer drug to addicts nationwide.
“CBP continues to see bad actors seeking to exploit the increasing volumes of de minimis shipments to transit illicit goods, including fentanyl and the precursors and paraphernalia used to manufacture it,” a spokesperson for CBP told me. De minimis is a Customs trade provision that allows for duty-free entry of all goods if priced under $800. CBP said that in fiscal year 2022 (beginning Oct 1 and ending Sept 30), most package seizures by Customs agents were from de minimis mail, including seizures for narcotics.
Although the CBP did not specify the source of these packages, Mexico and China are the top two, with China long known as the go-to spot for the raw materials and equipment used to make fentanyl in a lab.
Equipment such as pill presses, used by drug cartels for turning powder into consumable pills, were often seized at CBP mail rooms. Some 80% of those seizures came from duty-free entry, Brandon Lord, executive director of the trade policy and programs directorate, said on Sept. 11 at the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America conference.
Read the full article on Forbes.com (subscription may be required).
Vowing to attack the nation’s fentanyl problem on multiple fronts, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Tuesday the Justice Department has awarded $345 million in grants to support education, prevention, treatment and recovery programs.
“We know that no one — no one person and no one family — can defeat the epidemic alone. We need each other,” Garland said during a speech at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Family Summit on Fentanyl in Arlington, Virginia. “That is why the Justice Department is providing resources to public health and public safety programs across the country.”
Nearly a third of the funding will go toward the DOJ’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program for initiatives such as increased access to the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, medication-assisted treatment and peer support to overdose survivors and their families.
Twenty-five million dollars will go toward support, mentoring and other services for young people who have been affected by opioid and other substance use, as well as those who are at risk for substance abuse.
“No one, especially no young person, should have to face this alone,” Garland said.
Garland did not say how all the grant money will be spent.
For the first time, Americans can see the rise — and fall — of legal opioids entering their community. A database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks every single pain pill sold in the United States, tracing the path from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city, is now public through 2019, the tail end of the pain pill crisis.
These records provide an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which resulted in more than 210,000 overdose deaths during the 14-year time frame ending in 2019. It also sparked waves of an ongoing and raging opioid crisis first fueled by heroin and then illicit fentanyl.
The Washington Post sifted through 760 million transactions from 2006 through 2019 that are detailed in the DEA’s database and specifically focused on oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, which account for three-quarters of all opioid dosages shipped to pharmacies during that time. The Post is making this data available at the county and state levels to help the public understand the impact of years of prescription pill shipments on their communities.
A county-level analysis shows where the most oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed across the country over that time — more than 145 billion in all.