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What kills more Americans? Homicides or Fentanyl.

About 10,000 people die from Homicide in the US yearly. Althoug mass shootings grab headlines, they typicall acount for only 100-200 deaths.

Fentanyl, almost 75,000 deaths per year. This drug accounts for almost 75% of the total drug deaths each year.

One reason is it's potentcy. It's literally 50 times as strong as Heroin. The difference between an lethal and non lethal dose is incredibly small.

Fentanyl: The Silent Killer of American Youth

Students discuss the causes of the opioid crisis and how to combat it.

Dec. 12, 2023 6:45 pm ET

The most effective way to combat the fentanyl crisis is to close our southern border.

It’s no coincidence that the uptick in fentanyl deaths correlates with the increase in illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. This year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a record 2.4 million encounters at the southwestern border and seized 26,700 pounds of fentanyl in the U.S., up more than 150% from 2021.

Last year, 73,654 people died from a fentanyl overdose in the U.S., and among young Americans 10 to 19, deaths involving fentanyl increased 182% between 2019 and 2021. Just 2 milligrams of fentanyl—a dose small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil—can be lethal.

Drug traffickers deliberately target children and young adults to encourage fentanyl addiction. Ahead of Halloween last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration warned parents of brightly colored fentanyl pills, known as “rainbow fentanyl.” The report noted this new method of coloring is used “to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.”

Mexico’s role in the fentanyl trade shouldn’t be understated. And Mexico doesn’t seem to be in much hurry to solve the problem on its side. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador even denied this year that fentanyl is produced in Mexico. We must close our borders and stop the flow of fentanyl into America.

—Blake Mauro, Clemson University, political science

The Chinese and Mexican Trade Web

I sat behind him on the bus in high school. Now I’m a senior in college, and he’s been dead for two years. His friend told me that he overdosed on ecstasy laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl has caused almost 70% of overdoses in the past year. The hard question is what we should do about it. The dynamic is complicated by several factors. Companies that manufacture the raw chemicals, known as precursors, that make up fentanyl conduct seemingly legitimate business in China, with no obvious evidence they are involved in criminal activity until their exported product leaks into Mexican cartels’ supply chains.

The complexity of cartel financing is also a confounding variable. Cartels hedge against the financial risk of factory shutdowns by diversifying their revenue streams.

Participating in other illicit economies such as the exotic-animal trade ensures cartels still have valuable assets even if the Mexican government raids one of their production sites. Also, trading wildlife for Chinese chemicals reduces the paper trail and makes these activities harder to track.

It’s easy to demand that something be done. Standing on a soapbox takes little energy or ingenuity. Treasury’s announcement of a new fentanyl strike force is a step in the right direction. It has the expertise to track assets involved in funding illicit drug production. I look forward to the results of its efforts.

—Elijah Boles, Yale University, philosophy

There Are Drugs in My Drugs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is up to 50 times as strong as heroin and 100 times as strong as morphine. It’s uniquely damaging because of its extreme addictiveness and potency. But prescription opioids and their high potential for dependency shouldn’t be the only concern. Illegally made fentanyl poses the threat of overdose because deadly amounts of it are often hidden in other drugs.

Teens and young adults may intend to buy a less threatening drug, such as marijuana, and end up with a drug cut with fentanyl. You can’t guarantee the drug you’re buying isn’t laced with something more potent.

Fentanyl is also a threat to American youth because of a lack of drug education and awareness of the severity of opioids. Many households have leftover prescription painkillers from past surgeries and leave them accessible to children. Teens may not understand how addictive these substances are. What they intended to be a one-time use can turn into a severe addiction.

Opioids such as fentanyl are responsible for more than 150 overdose deaths every day. We can’t lose more lives in the U.S. to this dangerous substance. Fixing the problem starts with the education of children to spread awareness of the threat of opioid overdose.

—Molly Jenkins, Baylor University, entrepreneurship

The Root Problem

While getting fentanyl off the street is a fine idea, we would not solve the problem that plagues our nation by removing one kind of opioid. Targeting fentanyl alone will fail to address the root of the problem. In 1999 the U.S. had 2.9 opioid deaths per 100,000 people. In 2019 it was 15.5 per 100,000. This increase was largely due to the large volume of prescription opioids in the U.S., which peaked at 81.3 prescriptions per 100 people.

Our country’s opioid problem started long before fentanyl was prevalent. And while the rate of prescription-opioid use has gone down dramatically since 2014, it appears the demand was redirected toward fentanyl.

We must address the root of why so many Americans turn to drugs. Americans experiencing chronic pain, anxiety, hopelessness and family instability, and who have access to multiple opioid providers, are at risk. If we somehow eliminate fentanyl and don’t address the fact that Americans using opioids need help, we will fail them.

—Zacheray Womer, Pennsylvania State University, constitutional law

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