Illicit Fentanyl from China Is Killing Americans

And What You Can Do About it

Part II of Why Fentanyl? Why Now?

fentanyl and heroin

After criminal drug manufacturers in China create an illicit form of this strong painkiller and ship it to the U.S. or Canada, or to Mexico, drug dealers need to get it into the hands of their customers. In some cases, they just order the chemical from an online store and buy themselves a pill press and coloring material. Like the four men arrested in Baldwin Park, California in 2016, they set up labs to press the drug into counterfeit painkillers. During the Baldwin Park arrest, thirteen pounds of fentanyl powder was found. That’s enough of the drug to kill nearly two million people.

Similar arrests have occurred in Texas, Utah and New York. Other drug dealers mix fentanyl into their heroin supplies so they can get their customers high with a cheaper mix of drugs. That means more profits for them. Fentanyl has been found in cocaine as well.

In Part I, we talked about how fentanyl “analogues” were being manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical companies. Fentanyl analogues are formulas chemically very similar to fentanyl but perhaps they are not yet illegal. This whole system of skirting the law by trafficking in analogues was perfected by those manufacturing synthetics like cathinones, cannabinoids and piperazines—types of drugs sold as synthetic marijuana, bath salts or party drugs. As one formulation would be outlawed, chemists would modify the formula very slightly and start shipping a new—and temporarily legal—formula. The new drug might be completely untested and have radically dangerous effects but the chemists never seemed to care. Clever Chinese chemists have adopted the same tactics.

Fentanyl is now coming into the U.S. and Canada from so many sources that it’s not possible to simply find a lab and put it out of business, thereby ending the overdose deaths.

Taking Effective Action

How can we end these deaths? In addition to various legislative changes that may help, there are three vital actions families in America must take.

1. Every young person must be warned how easy it is to become addicted. They may think it’s safe to abuse pills because they are prescribed by doctors and they might be sure they can use these drugs at parties without becoming addicted. Both these ideas are very, very wrong. Parents must educate themselves on the dangers of opiate and opioid (synthetic opiates) use and then cover this subject in detail with their children. Youth of the appropriate age should be warned of the fatal danger of the fentanyl on the market. A young person will never be able to tell if they have a deadly dose in their hands.

2. Any medication prescribed for a young person must be monitored by a responsible adult. Young athletes or any young person who is prescribed a painkiller is particularly vulnerable to addiction. A parent should control the medication and know where every pill is.

3. Every person who is using opioids and who can’t stop needs to find help. There’s no one solution that works for every person but any help is better than none. With support and love, a family needs to try their best to convince a person addicted to opioids that they need and deserve help to get sober again. Whatever tools or rehab program can be used to help this person get off drugs could be the thing that saves that person’s life.

Contacting Legislators and Working in Your Community

It would not hurt to contact your legislators and local law enforcement personnel and find out what actions they are taking to reduce the presence of drugs in your community. Then support the ones that make sense to you.

Find out if there are community coalitions to fight the use of drugs in your town and ask them what help they need. Look online using search terms like the name of your town or county and “drug prevention” or “anti-drug coalition.” Your support might be as simple as participating in a parade or manning a booth during a street fair. Every little bit you can do helps spread the message. You never know who you will convince to stay away from drugs.

Ask schools in your area if they have drug prevention programs running. If they do, ask if there are any studies showing the effectiveness of that program. Not all drug prevention programs are created equal.

And set an example yourself. Let other people know that you only drink in moderation, you never use illicit drugs and you avoid the use of any medications that are not necessary.

As it turns out, there’s quite a lot you can do. You may come up with other ideas. The most important thing is to take action and make sure people, both young and old, understand the risk.

When you need an effective rehabilitation program, you can always call Narconon Ojai for an understanding of how lasting recovery from addiction can occur. For more than 50 years, Narconon has been helping return the brightness of life to those whose vision had been dimmed by drugs. We can help someone you love today.

Click here to read Part I, Why Fentanyl? Why Now?


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.