We have heard thousands of times that drugs destroy lives, and it couldn't be more accurate. Fentanyl is destroying our youth.
Fentanyl is a substance that under no circumstances should be consumed recreationally. In its purest form, 2 mg is enough to kill a person. It is regularly used as an analgesic to control pain in terminally ill patients. Its use is similar to morphine, but it is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overdose deaths occur when used recreationally. Fentanyl alters our perception of emotions and pain. It generates dopamine in the brain that causes extreme euphoria, pleasure, and relaxation, making it a highly addictive substance. It also produces hallucinations, confusion, involuntary movements, delirium, dizziness, and nausea. Overdose causes respiratory failure, loss of consciousness, and then death.
Of the approximately 107,000 overdose deaths that occurred in the United States in 2021, two-thirds were caused by fentanyl, which has become the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18-49. When compared to different death scenarios, more people have died from synthetic opioid overdoses than U.S. military personnel in the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined.
In 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it had seized 379 million illegal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill the entire population of the country. The impact it is having on society is worrying and it is alarming how it is rapidly affecting minorities. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased 35.7-fold among Hispanics in 2020, and the number continues to rise, according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In Dallas County (Texas), 15 of the 21 teenagers killed since 2015 were Hispanic. The Hispanic population is at risk: among them, deaths caused by cocaine and opioids grew by 27%.
During President Reagan's term, there was a campaign against the crack epidemic. It's worth remembering this as it is highly relevant today. The campaign gave the population the tools to decide. It gave them one simple sentence that describes the freedom and responsibility that comes with being free: "Just say no." It may sound trivial but it is the only solution to something like this.
We all have the ability to say that we do not want to destroy ourselves and that we are not willing to wipe out our communities. We must not get involved in the consumption of substances such as drugs, which are dangerous for us and for those who love and care for us.