- Jerry Glaser
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is often injected, and it is commonly mixed into baggies of heroin sold around the Hudson Valley. Like other opioids, Fentanyl’s legitimate medical usage is to relieve pain, mainly after surgery. It is synthesized in laboratories, though almost all black-market fentanyl is produced illicitly in China or by Mexican drug cartels, then trafficked into the US through the postal service or carried across the southern border.
In response to this opioid epidemic, the federal and state governments began restricting prescription painkillers about eight years ago. Measures include two state laws setting up tracking systems to stop New Yorkers from getting painkillers from multiple prescribers, and a 2016 law limiting initial prescriptions for non-chronic pain to seven days. However, America was already addicted.
Hudson Police Chief Ed Moore responds to some aspect of the opioid crisis every day. Hudson, the only city in Columbia County, is a focal point for drug sales in the region as people from surrounding rural communities come in to buy.
But unlike past drug panics, the opioid epidemic, in part because it was accelerated by legal prescriptions, affects people from all socio-economic groups. A woman making a six-figure salary was arrested buying heroin in Hudson. About a year ago, a multi-millionaire was found dead of an overdose.
Police and public health officials, however, say there has been a sea change in fighting drug addiction, especially since the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann describes it as “shifting from a law enforcement crisis to a public health crisis.” And as the crisis has deepened, more resources have become available to help those addicted to drugs improve their lives.
Learn more about the state of the opioid crisis in the Hudson Valley.