“They die because they don’t know what they’re taking”

Overdoses killed one person every five minutes last year in the United States. Almost 108,000 deaths in total. That’s more than the number of gun and road deaths combined. A figure up 15% compared to 2020. And a product particularly in question: Fentanyl.

It is a synthetic opioid that caused more deaths than any other drug in 2021, especially among young people. Ed and Mary Ternan’s son is one such victim. He died at age 22, three weeks before graduating from college. Ed says: “Our son Charlie died on May 14, 2020, after taking what he thought was a pill of Percocet that he got from someone he met online. But the pill he took turned out to be a counterfeit made entirely of Fentanyl and killed him very quickly.”

“A single pill caused his death within minutes.”

Ed Ternan, father of Charlie, died after a Fentanyl overdose

at franceinfo

Charlie Ternan suffered from back pain since an operation in 2018 and he had obtained the stamp he thought was his painkiller on the social network Snapchat. Since then, his parents have set up the Song for Charlie association, to inform adolescents of the risks of buying drugs or drugs on social networks. With spots like this, airing on TikTok or Instagram: “We never thought our best friend would be taken away from us so suddenly with just a pill.” tells the story of two young girls faced with the death of their friend Sophia, 20, who also thought she was taking the painkiller. They summarize their message as follows: “A pill can kill”.

The synthetic opioid Fentanyl caused more overdose deaths than any other drug in a year last year in the United States. And it makes 2021 the worst year in the nation’s history for overdoses. Traffickers mix it with all kinds of drugs in labs because it’s much cheaper to produce and 60 times more potent than heroin, for example, as Ed, Charlie’s father, explains: “Studies now show that in the United States, when a young person buys, for example, a bag of cocaine on a college campus for the weekend, the amount of actual cocaine that is usually in that bag is less than 5 %.

“95% of what kids put up their noses is another chemical. They die because they don’t know what they’re taking.”

Purchases on social networks without any guarantee on the products. Faced with this disastrous phenomenon, the federal government called a certain Tim Mackey for help. This professor at the University of California at San Diego has set up a start-up that has developed artificial intelligence software intended to detect illicit online drug sales. According to him, almost 90% of the pills bought from a dealer on social media are Fentanyl with new accounts created every month on the networks: “We don’t give exact numbers but we easily see over 100,000 different posts, comments and accounts that represent a cohort of people who have sold drugs over a month. Often the platforms themselves remove certain content. So often what we find is content that they don’t pick up on. And unfortunately, it increases as we add new platforms to watch.”

This monitoring of social networks enabled the United States Department of Drug Enforcement to seize nearly 20.5 million counterfeit pills last year, 40% of which contained lethal doses of Fentanyl.

New clients quickly become addicted, says Dr. Nora Volkow, who directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington: “Counterfeit pills that are made with Fentanyl have increased 40 times in two years, from 2018 to 2021. Any drug these days can potentially be mixed with Fentanyl. Due to the potency of its effects, it “It’s easier and faster for a person to become physically addicted to Fentanyl. Which means you can become physically addicted without even knowing what’s happening to you. Or you can just overdose.”

An awareness campaign is to be deployed this summer to alert adolescents and young adults to the dangers of Fentanyl. It will be financed by three tech heavyweights: Snap Inc. (which notably owns Snapchat), Meta (Facebook) and Google. According to federal authorities, overdoses are now the leading cause of preventable death among 18-45 year olds in the United States ahead of suicides, traffic accidents and death by firearm.

Leave a Comment