Opioid epidemic confounds government
In 2007, Jordan Spennato made high school football history in Florida, scoring a game-winning 40-plus yard field goal that bumped the team into the state championship. Five years later, he was found dead from a drug overdose in his parents' home.
“He wasn’t answering the door and in the back of my mind I think I knew,” his mother Kim Spennato said in an interview with WPEC.
Their family’s story is becoming an all-too-familiar one and is perplexing government leaders from the White House on down.
“We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted,” said President Donald Trump in his joint address to Congress last month.
So far no solutions have been offered.
It became a surprise issue on the campaign trail as well, with candidates on both sides of the aisle facing voters pleading for solutions.
In one speech, then-candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said. “More people in America die of drug overdoses than die in car crashes.”
And Cruz is correct.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 52,404 people died of drug addiction in 2015.
That’s more than can fit in Yankee stadium, including standing room.
Of those, 33,091 involved an opioid.
One reason for that according to officials with the Drug Enforcement Agency can be attributed to a recent threat which may be the most harmful of all - synthetic opioids like Fentanyl, which are created in a lab and can be 50 times more potent than heroin.
DEA Spokesman Rusty Payne said in an interview his biggest concern is accessibility.
“The fact that we can just jump online and buy this stuff. The fact that it’s really really easy to get. We can’t look at every single package. The postal service can’t inspect every single package,” Payne said, adding the DEA’s mission in this is clear.
“Our job is to go after the biggest drug trafficking networks the biggest and baddest the ones that are wreaking the most havoc, the ones that are most influential.”
But Payne acknowledges the supply wouldn’t exist without the demand, often started with prescription drugs which become addictive
The question of how to end those addictions continues to plague cities and towns across America, with solutions sought in Washington as well.