Fentanyl epidemic continues to rock U.S.

Health

FILE -A display of the fentanyl and meth that was seized by Customs and Border Protection officers over the weekend at the Nogales Port of Entry is shown during a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Nogales, Ariz. As the number of U.S. overdose deaths continues to soar, states are trying to take steps to combat a flood of the drug that has proved the most lethal — illicitly produced fentanyl. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP, File)

(NewsNation) — More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, the equivalent to one every five minutes.

Overdoses, especially of the dangerous drug fentanyl, are the leading cause of death among Americans ages 18 to 45. Fentanyl has been responsible for over 500,000 deaths over the last two decades, it is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.

The problem has wreaked havoc within the borders in every state. Police are trying to get to the bottom of what’s happening and parents who have lost children are delivering grim warnings to others about the dangers of fentanyl.

Fentanyl arrests are up 1,600% in Montana since 2020 and more fentanyl was seized in the first three months of 2022 than the previous four years combined.

“Having to carry Narcan on me every day in case we’re around fentanyl, that’s a concern,” said Montana Highway Patrolman Jay Nelson.

Law enforcement officers are seeing more fentanyl laced into drugs such as marijuana. And the Drug Enforcement Agency reported seizing more than 20 million fake pills last year, 40% of which contained potentially dangerous doses of fentanyl.

“We also are seeing where the cartels are mixing fentanyl in with other drugs like methamphetamine or heroin … so it’s a prevalent problem in our communities,” Nelson said.

The mixture of fentanyl into other drugs is a scary reality Amanda Faith wants every parent to be aware of. Faith lost her 13-year-old son Luka to an overdose death when he took what he thought was a Percocet he bought online. In truth, it turned out to be a fake pill laced with fentanyl.

“Kids notoriously make stupid decisions when they are experimenting, and fentanyl takes away the chance to learn from that mistake, because all it takes is one use, and they can die,” Faith said.

Because of the danger, Faith warns, parents need to be more cognizant than ever of the drugs their children could be consuming.

“This isn’t the 80s, where if you try something, you’re going to end up on Skid Row and homeless and all of those things,” Faith said. “This is an entirely different paradigm, where if you try something one time, you might die in front of your best friend.”

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