I happened to run into someone who does street outreach to opioid users in our area — goes out on emergency calls with the EMT’s, helps with crisis intervention, case management, etc — it’s real ground-level contact. He was clear that matters on that front had worsened significantly in recent months. For the most part, however, he hadn’t seen that shift reflected in the media.

Weren’t they paying attention?

I imagine the explanation is relatively simple: it’s the result of being the second worst epidemic in America. Our limited powers of concentration are absorbed by  COVID.

I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Not given the advent of Delta and low vaccination rates. But here are a couple articles on drug-related issues that you might have overlooked.

‘Huge, Historic, Unheard Of’: Drug Overdose Deaths Spike

Prior to the pandemic, you may recall, drug deaths had actually been trending downward. They’d only recently begun to rise again when our attention was diverted by COVID. Since then:

  • 2020 brought the largest single-year increase in fatalities since records have been kept.
  • The greatest impact in terms of ODs shifted to states that had previously avoided some of the worst: the ones in the South and West.
  • Where opioids had once been affected mostly white Americans, the fastest growth now came in minority communities, who often lacked adequate resources to cope.
  • In addition to opioid deaths, we were now setting records for stimulant fatalities (cocaine, methamphetamine).

I’m sure you already know that fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid introduced for cancer treatment, has become the illicit opioid of choice in many communities, replacing heroin. It’s found on its own as well in combination with other substances. And acquired a variety of street names along the way. One of the more curious examples: fuf. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that.

Many experts compare these changes to the arrival of the Delta variant and its effect on COVID relief efforts.  Hopefully that will spur governments, Federal, State, and local, to take a more active role, now and in future.

That would be a welcome change from what one commentator described as “our longstanding practice of making a little progress, accepting praise for it, and then forgetting all about the problem until the next crisis hits the headlines.” Cynical, sure. But we’ve been there before.

By the way, if you were wondering whether the drug issue will be show up in the various political campaigns to come, the answer to that is: oh, hell yes.

For instance, one legislator’s confused reaction to a massive drug bust at the border.

GOP Lawmaker’s Tweet Suggests He’s Mad that U.S. Intercepted Fentanyl at the Border

“Under Joe Biden, enough fentanyl to kill 238 million Americans was seized at the southern border last month. Where’s the outrage in the media?” That was from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizone).

The response from many readers: “Wait, isn’t that a good thing?” and “Shouldn’t we be congratulating law enforcement?”

Or as they said in The Princess Bride: “I do not think that means what you think it means,” Congressman.