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Mauro: Overdose kits are just a Band-Aid for the fentanyl crisis

The Clemson University Public Safety Facebook page issued a warning in January regarding a candy-disguised lethal drug.
Clemson University Public Safety // Courtesy
The Clemson University Public Safety Facebook page issued a warning in January regarding a candy-disguised lethal drug.

Fentanyl took 73,654 lives in 2022, more than 200 lives every day. The drug claimed nearly 70% of the United States’ drug overdose deaths in 2022. And just 2 milligrams of fentanyl — small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil — can be lethal, making it 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

In the wake of these candidly alarming numbers, college campuses across the country have taken action to “combat” the evergrowing threat of fentanyl in the U.S., including Clemson, as The Tiger reported on Thursday.

Colleges are being especially pressured to take action against the fentanyl epidemic because of the heightened risk the highly addictive drug poses to young and middle-aged adults.

Among young Americans aged 10 to 19, deaths involving fentanyl increased 182% between 2019 and 2021, and the leading cause of death of people aged 18-45 was fentanyl overdose in 2021, totaling just over 40,000, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The danger for college-aged adults largely comes from counterfeit pills that students believe are prescription medications, such as oxycodone, Adderall, Xanax or Vicodin. However, those pills can be laced with fentanyl and have resulted in overdoses on campuses across the U.S., such as Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon.

These colleges are not to blame for the growing amount of fentanyl on their campuses. And, now, numerous universities have installed tools similar to Clemson’s new ONEbox kits in hopes of offsetting the number of student deaths.

However, these kits are not solving any problems; they are not combatting the crisis at all. They are just simply putting a Band-Aid on the inevitable damage and destruction the increasing amount of fentanyl is bringing to our country.

Instead of having American colleges implement “Narcan and a quick training video on how to respond to an overdose,” our government and the current administration could truly combat this crisis and get to the root cause of the issue if they would take serious measures to secure the southern border.

In 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 2.4 million encounters with illegal immigrants at the U.S. southern border, with December setting a record high of 302,034 encounters, according to its most recent data. That 2.4 million also doesn’t include the number of “gotaways” who entered the U.S. unaccounted for.

And it is no coincidence that the uptick in fentanyl deaths correlates with the increase in illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. In fiscal year 2023, the U.S. CBP seized 26,700 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border, up more than 150% from 2021.

The new bill introduced in the Senate this month is one to keep your eyes on as it relates to cracking down on the illegal immigration raging at the U.S. southern border. As much as they are just trying to help, overdose kits on college campuses are not the answer to America’s overdose problem; tougher border laws are.

Blake Mauro is a senior political science major from Montvale, New Jersey. You can reach her at [email protected]

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    ErikFeb 11, 2024 at 2:51 pm

    Most drug traffickers are US citizens and most fentanyl comes through port of entrys. So I’m confused why you blame “illegal immigrants;” maybe the United States education system is actually that bad where people who like putting their opinion out there can’t even do bare minimum research.

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