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Drugs, an ever increasing plague

By Eugenia Jones

Part 1

Last week’s drug bust by the McCreary County Sheriff’s Office (in conjunction with other agencies) netted a large quantity of opiate pills, 60 pounds of marijuana, THC gummies, firearms, and a large amount of cash  and, once again, focused attention on the plagues of drug abuse and drug trafficking in McCreary County.

“At this point, you are blessed if you don’t have anyone in your family or a close friend who is dealing with a drug problem,” McCreary County Sheriff Randy Waters noted.  “Probably 90% of our calls are, in some way, drug related.”

In addition to opiates, marijuana, guns, and cash, the latest drug bust yielded two bottles of unidentified pills.  Those pills have been sent off for analysis.

Today, whether a pill has been identified or not, the drug, fentanyl is another dangerous worry.

“You really have to worry about fentanyl,” Sheriff Waters said.  “All you have to do is breathe it, and it can be your last breath.  We have dealt with some fentanyl in McCreary County-usually when it was laced into other pills or meth.”  

According to the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/index.html), “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.   Most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is distributed through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often added to other drugs because of its extreme potency, which makes drugs cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.   Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is available on the drug market in different forms, including liquid and powder.  Powdered fentanyl looks just like many other drugs. It is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine and made into pills that are made to resemble other prescription opioids. Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous, and many people may be unaware that their drugs are laced with fentanyl.  In its liquid form, IMF can be found in nasal sprays, eye drops, and dropped onto paper or small candies.”

Fentanyl is deadly even in miniscule amounts.  

“Drugs may contain deadly levels of fentanyl, and you wouldn’t be able to see it, taste it, or smell it. It is nearly impossible to tell if drugs have been laced with fentanyl unless you test your drugs with fentanyl test strips,” the CDC cautions.  Test strips are inexpensive and typically give results (although not always accurate) within 5 minutes, which can be the difference between life or death.”

Sheriff Waters notes that attacking McCreary County’s drug problem is a priority for his office.

“Tackling the drug problem is a priority for us,” Sheriff Waters remarked.  “I have a son and a granddaughter that I want to keep safe.  If we don’t protect them, who will?”

Sheriff Waters said one of the hardest aspects of tackling drugs is dealing with children and family members who have a loved one suffering from substance abuse.

“The children and family members are impacted by illegal drugs, too,” Sheriff Waters observed.  “They have to deal with and see loved ones who may be hallucinating, tweaking, or overdosing.  That’s heartbreaking, and it is tough.”

McCreary County’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) encounters the worst case scenarios of drug abuse in McCreary County.

“One of the saddest overdose deaths I ever dealt with involved a girl in her late teens,” McCreary County EMS Director Jimmy Barnett noted.  “She was in a tiny camper and was so frail and thin that I just walked in the camper and carried her out to the stretcher.  She was dying from meth.  It was a shock.”

Another EMT recalls the heroin overdose death of a young McCreary County man in his early twenties.

“He was such a talented kid in high school,” the EMT remarked.

Part 2 in next week’s issue of The Voice.

Photo by Eugenia Jones
Pictured (above) is a bag of illegal gummy candy containing more than 0.3% THC derived from marijuana, not to be confused with CBD gummies which are legal and derived from the hemp plant containing less than 0.3% THC. Both should be kept away from children who might mistake the gummies for regular candy.

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