Fighting Fentanyl

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Recently Kevin Price, Host of the nationally syndicated Price of Business Show, welcomed Paul Vecchione to provide another commentary in a series.

The Paul Vecchione Commentaries

Despite the ramped up efforts across the country to counter its omnipresence, Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, has been wreaking havoc across the United States for years, leading to an alarming rise in overdose deaths. This, with Fentanyl being the deadly spinoff the America’s opioid crisis ongoing for decades, is a problem that needs our attention, so let’s throw everything, including the kitchen sink at its demise.It demands a multifaceted strategy that combines prevention, education, treatment, and law enforcement efforts, so let’s get to it.

First, we need to understand the crisis in order to dismantle it. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is responsible for a significant portion of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. Unlike traditional opioids, fentanyl is often illicitly manufactured, making it difficult to control its distribution and quality. It is frequently mixed with other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, further increasing the risk of overdose,  posing an even greater challenge for prevention because lacing typical street drugs with Fentanyl, puts unsuspecting users at great risk. Drug overdose deaths surged to a record high of over 100,000 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, with fentanyl being a key contributor to this crisis, a grim reality. But we are not powerless. There is an urgent need for a sustained effort by all stakeholders in our society to embrace an all hands on deck approach to addressing this issue, and like other public health crises, it starts with education and prevention.

We need public awareness campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl. This campaign should focus on the risks associated with fentanyl use, signs of an overdose, and the importance of seeking help. And as with anything, it starts with our kids. We need to develop targeted programs for schools and communities to educate young people about the risks of opioid use, including fentanyl because engaging youth in prevention efforts can have a long-lasting impact, and sustained prevention efforts can hold significant sway in getting the right information into the right hands in time to educate and warn the American public about the dangers of this scourge. We also need early intervention strategies to support at-risk children and foster a proactive and collaborative approach to their well-being. We can do this by implementing support services for crisis intervention teams in schools and parents of children at risk Targeted early intervention strategies can be augmented with  assistive technology that places a strong emphasis on early intervention, collaboration, technology, and data-driven decision-making to address critical concerns in children’s lives.

We can also expand access to treatment and increase access to evidence-based addiction treatment programs, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT).  Naloxone has been shown to be effective in treating opioid addiction and reducing the risk of overdose. With widespread distribution of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, to both first responders and at-risk individuals we can save lives and ensuring naloxone availability in pharmacies and community centers is crucial.

Lastly, Law enforcement has been on the front lines of the so-called “War On Drugs” for decades, with little evidence of effectively reducing the massive amounts of drugs flooding our streets every day, but there are ways to leverage and augment the hard work put forth by our law enforcement officials every day. We can focus on stricter border control; to enhance efforts to detect and intercept illicit fentanyl shipments at the U.S. borders. This includes cooperation with international partners to curb the production and distribution of fentanyl from abroad. We can also implement targeted law enforcement that prioritize investigations and prosecutions of fentanyl traffickers, including those who manufacture, distribute, or sell the drug and tougher penalties for fentanyl-related offenses may act as a deterrent. There are also efforts for the regulation of precursor chemicals and strengthening of regulations on the precursor chemicals used in fentanyl production and limiting the availability of these chemicals can disrupt illicit manufacturing operations. Lastly we need to  follow the lead of many local municipalities that focus on treatment instead of incarceration that encourage diversion programs that direct non-violent, low-level drug offenders to treatment rather than incarceration. This approach can help break the cycle of addiction and reduce recidivism, take low level offenders off the streets, fill the void of effective law enforcement strategies for repeat offenders and save taxpayer money and an overburdened criminal justice system.

The urgency of this crisis cannot be overstated, but we have the tools to fight it. Will we use them?



Paul was born and raised in Suffolk County Long Island and has called it home for the past 40 years where he and his wife are raising their two children. Paul has been an educator on Long Island since 2004 and holds two master’s degrees from Long Island colleges. With so much vested in this region, Paul has taken a keen interest in what has become one of Long Island’s most devastating realities; substance abuse and addiction. Having worked with teenagers his entire professional career, Paul offers a unique perspective into the mitigating factors that drive adolescent behaviors, particularly those which can lead to destructive decisions. Substance abuse and its ensuing crippling effects on the lives of people and their families has Paul’s attention and it is for these reasons Paul is the CEO of Long Island P.R.E.P. and Mission Z Podcast.

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