Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 200,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, an alarming increase over previous years.
The year 2020 alone saw a record 92,000 drug overdoses across the United States, and while final numbers have yet to be released for 2021, last year’s total looks to be higher still. The crisis is being driven by a fairly new, ultra-potent drug: fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is the most powerful painkiller on the market. It’s 100 times more potent than morphine,” says James Miller, Director of Community Corrections Program in Raleigh County, West Virginia.
Only two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal.
In 2021 US Customs and Border Protection seized more than 11,000 pounds of fentanyl in the United States – enough to kill more than 2.5 billion people. The drug is being laced into less potent drugs like marijuana and heroin, often without the knowledge of the user.
“We are finding in our drug screening almost every methamphetamine positive also has a fentanyl positive,” says Miller. “Once that first high occurs, nothing after that compares.”
West Virginia saw a 40% increase in the number of overdose deaths just in 2020 alone. And Fentanyl played an increasing part in those 1,200 deaths. But if you talk to experts here in West Virginia, they’ll tell you it’s also the federal government’s response to the pandemic that’s to blame.
“Unfortunately, the stimulus monies that were distributed throughout the country as a way to address lost income contributed greatly to overdose deaths, and to overdose near-deaths and to millions of relapses,” says Miller.
One former addict, who is referred to as “Kristen” to protect her anonymity, agrees.
“I got that big chunk of money…well, that big chunk of money was gone within days,” says Kristin. “Sitting at home, being bored having nothing else to do, already being an addict, you know, ‘hey, let’s get high.’”
The source of the fentanyl flooding America’s streets might come as a surprise. According to data compiled by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Illicit fentanyl is primarily manufactured in China and smuggled into the United States through Mexico. Some say this should constitute an act of war.
“We should consider each of those deaths a murder, because China wanted Americans dead,” says Gordon G. Chang, author of “The Great US-China Tech War.”
He says, “China knows exactly what’s going on. So, when they sell fentanyl, you have to assume this is Communist party policy.”
“And by the way, these Fentanyl gangs are operating not just on our southern border, but on our northern border as well,” says Chang.
These experts fear Fentanyl may prove to be our adversary’s most powerful weapon – defeating America from the inside out.
“Every time someone says fentanyl, we should be saying China. Unfortunately, that’s not the case,” says Chang.
“If our enemies can destroy our youth who fight our wars, then they’ve already won the battle,” says Miller.