VALLEY, Ala. (WRBL) – The illegal Fentanyl public health crisis continues to expand at an alarming rate. According to Families Against Fentanyl, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illicit Fentanyl poisoning is now the leading cause of death among 18-45 year-olds. The group is urging the United States to declare illegal Fentanyl and analogs Weapons of Mass Destruction, saying the opioid is more lethal than Sarin Gas, which has already been declared a WMD.
Narcan, or naloxone, can reverse the deadly impact of an opioid overdose, including Fentanyl. Most law enforcement agencies carry the nasal spray to treat overdoses in their communities and protect their officers if they encounter the deadly drug while working.
“We have used it twice and in both times were able to bring those individuals back. But unfortunately, Fentanyl is transferred by touch and by breathing the fumes. I have read reports of several officers conducting searches immediately falling out because they inhaled fumes from Fentanyl,” said Valley Police Chief Mike Reynolds.
Families Against Fentanyl, using CDC data, reports Fentanyl overdose/poisoning is the number one cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45 years old, surpassing suicide, vehicle crashes, COVID-19, and gun deaths. Fentanyl is odorless and tasteless; an amount similar to a grain of salt can be deadly.
Tasha Allen, from Lagrange, Georgia, shared with WRBL about the loss of her youngest daughter, Chalice Brooke Allen. She died in August of 2021 due to a Fentanyl poisoning overdose.
“We buried her on Labor Day of last year, three days before her 20th birthday. August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day per CDC website. I knew then that was a sign that her story was to be heard. I’m one of many moms on a mission to bring awareness to this epidemic and crisis in our nation,” said Allen.
Jessica Ventiere, Lee County, Alabama’s District Attorney, says deaths are on the rise, especially in teens and young adults who didn’t know they were taking Fentanyl. Ventiere supports enacting state laws that would hold drug dealers accountable for deaths involving counterfeit drugs laced with Fentanyl.
This summer, Auburn police arrested three men after discovering Fentanyl, pressed to look like Xanax, during a search warrant. At the time of their arrests, Auburn police wanted families to know 42% of pills tested by the DNA for Fentanyl contained a potentially lethal dose.
“Lee County is not immune to the Fentanyl crisis we see across the country. In just two years, we’ve experienced a dramatic increase in Fentanyl-related crimes and overdose deaths, especially in our older teens and younger adult population. Most alarming is that we see Fentanyl pressed into counterfeit pills. These pills look exactly like prescription drugs, such as Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone, and Percocet. You cannot tell if drugs contain Fentanyl by look, taste, smell, or touch,” said Ventiere.
Chief Reynolds If you have a person in your family known to use these drugs, it may not be a bad idea to have some Narcan on hand for your family members. You can purchase it at a pharmacy without a prescription.
“Many folks think they are just gonna get high and end up dead,” said Chief Reynolds.
‘One Pill Can Kill’ is a public health and law enforcement campaign to increase awareness.
“Talking to our young people about Fentanyl and other dangerous drugs is one of the best things we can do to keep them safe. Stress the importance that any prescription pill should come from a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription,” said Ventiere.
Families Against Fentanyl issued a plea in 2020 for Weapon of Mass Destruction Designation for illicitly manufactured Fentanyl, saying the United States needs to address the crisis as a Clear and Present Danger. Families Against Fentanyl parents, like James Rauh, understand the toll.
“The opioid crisis became very personal for me on March 21, 2015, when my son, Tom, died from a
lethal dose of Chinese-sourced fentanyl. But I also recognize that this crisis transcends the over-whelming
grief shared by those of us who have been personally affected by it. The U.S. Government designating illegal fentanyl as a Weapon of Mass Destruction would enable the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Defense, and other relevant federal agencies to better coordinate their efforts and immediately publish the necessary administrative directives to eliminate the threat posed by these deadly substances,” said Rauh.
Families Against Fentanyl report illegally imported fentanyl seizures in 2018 totaled almost 5,000 lbs., which is more than 1.2 billion lethal doses and enough to kill four times the population of the U.S. In the first six months of 2019, seizures went up. The U.S. DEA estimates less than 10% of all illicit drugs are being captured.
Per FAF: The following list compares lethal doses of fentanyl and its more powerful analog, carfentanil, with
the highest-class nerve agent Sarin, which is currently designated as a WMD:
AGENT 158 lb. Person: Deadly Dose
Carfentanil .02 mg
Sarin .50 mg
Fentanyl 2 mg
“We urge all relevant federal agencies to aggressively confront this threat by naming illegal fentanyl
and its analogues Weapons of Mass Destruction.” said Rauh.
For more information, please visit: Families Against Fentanyl