There exists a drug crisis gripping our nation with people dying every day from prescription drug overdoses. These are the deaths of moms and dads, sisters and brothers, grandchildren, neighbors and co-workers. As such, the Justice Department is taking steps to raise awareness of this nationwide epidemic that now claims more lives in the United States than car accidents.
"Fentanyl is an extremely powerful drug that is further complicating the severe problems we are seeing in relation to this nation’s opioid epidemic. Using fentanyl in a counterfeit pill that appears to look like a less-lethal opioid dramatically increases the possibility of overdoses – and deaths that we see far too often."
United States Attorney for the Central District of California Nick Hanna.
As a vital component of our community outreach efforts, the United States Attorney’s Office is providing age-appropriate educational presentations for students in all age ranges, from elementary school through graduate school. The topics covered include the dangers of opioid abuse, the scope of the problem, what to do in the event of an overdose, and treatment options for persons suffering from addiction. Upon request, we will assemble experts that includes public health and law enforcement officials, and/or addiction specialists. We will work with you to assemble the program that best fits the needs of your student population.
Our events include, in addition to a panel discussion, a screening of the FBI/DEA film "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opioid Addict," which illustrates the stark reality of opioid addiction.
This crisis is being driven primarily by opioids—prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
But we cannot arrest and prosecute our way out of a problem that is deeply rooted in many communities. Enforcement efforts must be paired with education and rehabilitation for those who have fallen into addiction. As such, we are committed to addressing the opioid abuse problem with prevention and treatment options.
While public discussions can shed light on the opioid epidemic, real education is rooted in one-on-one conversations in homes and communities. Families should have meaningful conversations about the dangers of prescription drug abuse because the threat is real. Communities need to come together to address the issue because opioid abuse affects everyone.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, in the United States we are seeing more availability, higher purity, and lower price. Dealers are lacing heroin and cocaine with fentanyl—a drug 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin—and they are making counterfeit prescription drugs that in fact are made from fentanyl. As a result, the drugs on the street are now more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous than ever. And they’re not just dangerous for users: even being accidently exposed to just a few grains of fentanyl can kill a police officer or paramedic.
Los Angeles County is facing a public health crisis stemming from the abuse of prescription drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as the increased use of heroin and fentanyl. We are not alone. In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Of those deaths, more than 60,000 were from prescription and street opioids. Millions more in the United States are abusing prescription painkillers. In Los Angeles County, over the past 10 years, opioids have been present in more than 5,000 deaths, which is well over 80 percent of all drug-related deaths in the county. But the deaths tell only part of story of the opioid epidemic, which also has inflicted a tremendous emotional and financial toll on addicts and their families, and on communities throughout the country.
As we go out into local communities to discuss this public health threat, we are highlighting a multi-prong approach designed to save lives and reduce the terrible impact these drugs have on the lives of our family members and fellow citizens.
At the United States Attorney’s Office, we have been committed to stemming the flow of illegal drugs for many years. Our enforcement efforts have helped reduce the availability of opioids on the street and have had a deterrent effect.
Together we can adopt new strategies to confront the opioid epidemic, spare many families the pain of living through addiction, and save many lives in the process.
For information or to schedule a presentation, please contact: USACAC.CommunityOutreach@usdoj.gov.