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Fentanyl overdoses are not ignored | READER COMMENTARY

Jenn Bennett, who is high on fentanyl, sits on her skateboard with a visible black eye as her friend, Jesse Williams, smokes the drug in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Use of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is cheap to produce and is often sold as is or laced in other drugs, has exploded. Because it's 50 times more potent than heroin, even a small dose can be fatal.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Regrettably, most of the factual basis of the Heritage Foundation’s recent commentary, “Fentanyl poisoning of our children is a true public health crisis” (Dec. 30), ends at its headline. Many of the writers’ assertions are just flat-out wrong, and in some cases, mean-spirited. Virginia Krieger and Lora Ries allege that “most leaders in this country refuse to talk about (the dangers of fentanyl).” Who specifically is dropping the ball?

Not the Biden administration. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s social media campaigns “One Pill Can Kill” and “What Every Parent and Caregiver Needs to Know About Fake Pills” are widely circulated. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s fentanyl fact sheet and President Joe Biden’s extensive National Drug Control Strategy also focus on fentanyl and offer prevention and treatment strategies and solutions.

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Not Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. Hogan’s “BeforeitsTooLate.Maryland.gov has aired numerous public service announcements, videos and other resources about fentanyl and all dangerous drugs.

Not the newly-elected Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly’s administration. It’s been my privilege to participate in meetings with him and Joseph Sliwka, his new director of the Harford County Department of Community Services. They are acutely aware of the fentanyl and other drug dangers and plan to tackle them head on.

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The Heritage Foundation’s commentary suggests that numbers and data of the extent of the fentanyl overdoses is unknown. Incorrect. About 80% of fatal overdoses in Maryland are from fentanyl while 66% of the 105,752 in the United States in the year ending in October, 2021 were from fentanyl.

The authors’ dismissal of harm reduction and rehabilitation programs as ineffective is not supported by evidence. I see their lifesaving effectiveness every week through my work as a certified peer recovery specialist in Harford County.

— Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

The writer is a certified peer recovery specialist at Voices of Hope.

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