Fentanyl epidemic strikes close to home

Daniel Costa

Assistant News Editor

Graphoc via Caroline Niehoff

San Francisco and Providence are located at both extremes of the continental United States, yet there is a strong connection between the two: the rise of fentanyl overdoses. Providence is nowhere near the size of San Francisco in terms of population and the amount of overdoses experienced with fentanyl. However, both cities have reasons to be wary of the data.


Fentanyl is an opioid drug that is akin to morphine. It has a significantly greater effect than morphine, however, and can be prescribed or made illegally. The manner in which one consumes the drug comes in a variety of forms, including injection, patch or pill. Nationwide, the drug is largely responsible for 36,359 opioid deaths in 2019.


Fentanyl and other drugs have set a horrific record in our own homeland, with an increase of 28 percent in 2020 compared to the prior year. State officials held COVID induced isolation as the central factor. Nevertheless, the statistics have clearly shown that the trend was increasing even before lockdowns were enforced.


One of the key issues with fentanyl is that it can be blended with other drugs to appear more harmless. This issue lies deep in my own heart when someone very close to me was affected by this. What this person thought was one thing actually turned out to be heavily laced with fentanyl. Only a timely encounter with their brother prevented an untimely tragedy from occurring.


Governor Dan McKee reinforced the narrative of giving support and resources to the families in need. Rhode Island’s head of the Department of Health, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, pleaded with Rhode Island users to consume in groups rather than individually. Furthermore, she reminded the populace at large of the need for available naloxone. More commonly known as narcan, naloxone is used to treat overdoses associated with fentanyl, among other opioids.


Various measures throughout the nation are being adapted to combat the scourge. Our Governor has signed into law the first of its kind, authorizing the establishment of safe injection sites throughout the state. Other states such as Texas have increased legal pressure on those producing the drug and distributing it.


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