Drug Overdoses Out of Control


The latest data on fatal drug overdoses just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show record numbers. Nearly 108,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021. This is far more than in 2017, when President Trump declared drug deaths a public-health emergency. Among blacks, the drug mortality rate has quadrupled in less than eight years.

What accounts for this increase?

Joseph Grogan and Casey B. Mulligan, writing in The Wall Street Journal, say the Covid pandemic is one reason. The Trump administration acted aggressively and directed agencies to implement several recommendations from the Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. These included changes to prescribing patterns, treatment paradigms and law-enforcement procedures. The rate of deaths from drug overdoses slowed and then dipped. But then Covid hit, bringing with it numerous mental health consequences, aggravated by lockdowns, school closures, and job losses. These authors now say the addiction and overdose crisis is the most important public-health issue facing the country.

But a more important reason is the unchecked flow of illegal drugs coming across our southern border. It seems the Biden administration has no intention of changing this. President Biden’s most recent budget pays little attention to it, while his National Drug Control Strategy provides resources, such as clean syringe programs, that aren’t coupled with strategies to help patients beat addictions or stem the flow of illegal drugs.

The main problem drug is fentanyl. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine. When I was hospitalized with a kidney stone, I was given fentanyl in the emergency room and then transported to the floor. When I later asked for more fentanyl, I was told fentanyl was only available in the emergency room and the operating room, where there was equipment and personnel immediately available for resuscitation, if needed. Imagine such a drug being casually taken by drug addicts on the street! It’s no wonder the number of fatal overdoses is rising rapidly.

Fentanyl is not a new drug. Until 2013, it was only available in hospitals under strictly controlled conditions. But these authors share that in 2013, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder decided to end the war on drugs, and illicit fentanyl flooded into the country. In the past decade, many blue states and localities have opted to accommodate the public use of previously illicit drugs. Progressive prosecutors and movements to defund the police have contributed to this wholesale surrender by civic leaders to drug abuse.

Fentanyl is so lethal, a single backpack of this drug could kill a million people. Yet Biden eliminated controls on illegal immigration instituted by his predecessor. The Trump administration’s Drug Enforcement Agency temporarily placed all of its analogs – such as carfentanyl, acetylfentanyl, butyrfentanyl, and others yet to be invented – into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. That prevented drug cartels from tweaking the chemical composition of the drugs to get around prosecution.

While Congress is supposed to be working to update this temporary order into a permanent change, over 100 civil rights groups have pressured the White House to stop this move, asserting that using law enforcement to stop fentanyl is racist! The rate of drug overdose of whites exceeded the rate of blacks before 2019, but has since surged past it during the pandemic to reach 43 annually per 100,000 of the black population since last September. In other words, those who claim to be looking out for the interests of minorities are in fact doing just the opposite – they’re looking out for the interests of drug dealers and cartels.

Stopping the flow of illegal drugs across our borders and putting an end to the widespread use of fatal drugs like fentanyl are two things needed for all Americans, no matter what the color of their skin. Anyone getting in the way of these goals are the real racists.

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