Shortly after ringing in the New Year, I came across a tragic headline of a teen actor who passed away over the summer. Last week, it was announced that 18-year-old Tyler Sanders’ death was attributed to the effects of fentanyl.
In a statement provided to the media, Tyler’s parents wrote that "we are a family much like all other families who never thought this could happen to us."
Unfortunately, these types of stories and statements are becoming far too frequent in the news cycle. Parents across the country are grieving the loss of a child gone too soon in an event they never imagined possible.
A Washington Post analysis of recent CDC data concluded that fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49, as evidenced on the Faces of Fentanyl Wall exhibit at the DEA Headquarters, Arlington, VA. The 12-month period ending in March 2022 was the deadliest we’ve seen – as the CDC predicted over 110,000 Americans died from a drug overdose during that span. CNBC’s similar CDC analysis found that drug overdoses nearly tripled among adolescents from 2019 to 2021.
These aren’t just data points – they are human lives being lost daily to an epidemic impacting all corners of our country.
The problem feels insurmountable. Yet – as I wrote in November’s blog – I have hope for America overcoming this tragic challenge. I’m especially hopeful of significant measures that can be taken in 2023.
I attended a conference put on by the National Attorney Generals Association last month in Washington DC. It was clear that many state are prioritizing their resources to save lives from overdoses – especially those from the rise in fentanyl.
The DEA and state governments have made it clear that combatting fentanyl is a top priority. In addition to these law enforcement efforts to slow the drug’s spread, I’m also hopeful that this year will see an expansion of awareness campaigns and increasing the public’s knowledge.
Another resource that will make an impact in 2023 is Naloxone. When an overdose occurs, the administration of Naloxone is a proven life saver. By blocking the opioid effects from the brain, Naloxone quickly reverses overdoses and saves lives in those critical moments.
Communities across the country are realizing how critical Naloxone is in their efforts to combat fentanyl and overdose deaths. Harbor Path is working with nonprofits and local governments nationwide to make Naloxone available and affordable in areas it’s needed most.
From supplying schools and universities with emergency rescue kits to providing parents of teenagers with Naloxone for their home – we are working tirelessly to get Naloxone into the hands of those who need it most.
We all can do our part to fight fentanyl in 2023 and beyond. From talking to loved ones about counterfeit pills to reaching out to local lawmakers, no conversation or action is too small. We must continue working together to save lives.