WASHINGTON, DC, Jan 16 — Medical science began to make our lives longer and healthier in the 20th century. At its beginning, in 1900, life expectancy was a mere 47 years. By 1950 Americans could expect to live to the ripe old age of 60 or more. And, at the turn of the 21st century we were living into our 70s. In fact, in 2019, we were living as long as 79 years. And then came the COVID pandemic and we stopped getting older. In 2020 — the year that COVID began to spread — life expectancy dropped to 77 and in 2021, it fell to just 76.
Those were the lonely days marked by self-isolation and masks. It was a deadly period made deadlier by drug deaths, particularly the new drug on the block called fentanyl. The drug emerged in the U.S. during the pandemic. Its distribution was accelerated with the help of the Biden administration’s “open border” with Mexico, which has allowed millions of illegal migrants to make their way into the U.S.– including drug traffickers.
According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “The pandemic had a magnifying effect on an already-devastating overdose crisis and exacerbated many of the stressors in society that make people more vulnerable to taking drugs. As she noted in a recent CNN report, “We also know that substance use is more dangerous than it has ever been, as fentanyl has continued to permeate the illicit drug supply, increasing the risk for overdoses among both people with substance use disorders as well as those who use drugs occasionally.” The CNN coverage revealed that deaths caused by opioids such as fentanyl swelled by 22% while those involving heroin decreased.
The Epoch Times reported last week that two milligrams of fentanyl — the equivalent of less than half a teaspoon of sugar — is lethal. Since the pandemic, fentanyl has become “the number one cause of death among Americans 18 to 45, surpassing COVID-19, suicide, and car accidents. The total number of fentanyl deaths among Americans 18 to 45 nearly doubled from 2020 to 2021,” reports the activist group, Families Against Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Its source is China, which provides the chemicals needed to create it to Mexican drug cartels. The Epoch Times cites Anders Corr, publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, who says Beijing has weaponized the drug and is using it to threaten the U.S. He says that “China is linking the fentanyl issue and negotiations with other totally different issues like [the] Taiwan issue. So when Pelosi visited Taiwan, one of the ways in which China retaliated against the United States was to cease negotiations over the fentanyl issue.”
The assertion was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal. In its coverage of the fentanyl threat, the Journal pointed out that starting in 2018 China was restricting the production of its ingredients. But then, last August, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the independent, Chinese island state of Taiwan. It prompted the authorities in Beijing to break off further talks with the U.S. about checking the export of those ingredients to the Mexican cartels.
The Open Access Government website reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s 2022 year-end assessment says each and every day some 136 Americans die as a result of the use of fentanyl and other opioids. It quotes DEA Administrator Anne Milgram who says that “fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered.” The DEA assessment suggests that one of the deadliest aspect of the drug is that in many cases users don’t even know that they are taking an opioid because “fentanyl is sold on the black market as nasal sprays, powders or pills, including pills made to look like legitimate prescription opioids or candy. In addition, because of its potency and low production cost, drug dealers will often mix fentanyl with other illicit substances to increase the addictive properties of these other drugs.”
The report noted that last year the DEA seized 50.6 million fentanyl-laced pills and 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder– “enough deadly doses of fentanyl to kill every American.” It’s difficult, at best, to know how much of the stuff made it into the hands of traffickers and users. What we do know is that enough fentanyl was smuggled into the U.S. to kill more than 100,000 American citizens.
John Grimaldi served on the first non-partisan communications department in the New York State Assembly and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Priva Technologies, Inc. He has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee of Daytop Village Foundation, which oversees a worldwide drug rehabilitation network.