The New Opium War

The University System of Georgia plans to lower the rates of college students abusing opioid drug. Opioids can be consumed in an number of ways. The most common are snorting and injecting the drug. Leah Jordan | The Signal from 2017

Dead bodies are piling up in the streets of Atlanta because of a deadly, ultra-powerful opioid called Fentanyl. In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has called for an end to the fentanyl trade. Richard Baum, the acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said both the U.S. and China are working to make that happen.

“We are trading information about what’s happening. They are banning substances, [and] we are…working together at the UN,” he said publicly.

Most fentanyl in the U.S. comes from China, the world’s largest manufacturer of the drug. Fentanyl production is widely unregulated in China, and according to the DEA, smaller batches of high-potency fentanyl are flown into Mexico where it is sold to cartels. The cartels dilute and smuggle it into the U.S.

Fentanyl is about 50 times stronger than heroin, so the lethal dose for a naïve user is around three milligrams. That’s about the size of a grain of salt. It’s also very easy to smuggle into the country because 100 doses can fit in a dime bag. With the world’s largest airport, Atlanta is absolutely flooded with this drug.

Signs of fentanyl overdose are vomiting, constipation, itching, hallucinations, and the inability to breathe. It’s possible that fentanyl is being used as a form of chemical warfare that just-so- happens to be profitable. China is a very powerful competitor against the U.S. in manufacturing. In recent years, the American industry has been outsourced to China, leaving the working class without jobs. Mass opioid use destabilizes the nation and demoralizes the people. Opioids are the deadliest drugs known to man, but overdoses are just one consequence of rising opioid use. The socio-economic impacts are undeniably bad. It’s a very expensive habit. Addicts waste their hard earned money chasing the high. They’re slaves of an artificial feeling—everything else takes a backseat. School, work, your future, and your family all get neglected. Getting high is generally a user’s number one priority. Withdrawals are so intense fentanyl addicts often turn to crime to just to get their next fix. Whether it’s shoplifting or armed robbery, an addict will do whatever it takes to get money. The dealers just sit back and make a profit. This isn’t completely unreasonable, as the U.S. did the same thing to China back in the 1800s.

The fentanyl trade is a multi-million dollar industry comparable to the opium trade in China prior to the breakout of the Opium Wars. Opium is a drug that is very similar to fentanyl, and is the namesake of the opiate or opioid class of drugs. During the height of Western imperialism in the 1850s, China met with the US and Great Britain to sign the “unequal treaties.” These treaties essentially gave the U.S. full rights to sell opium in China, despite its illegality. When China resisted, Great Britain opened fire on Chinese ports and ships in the First Opium War. The Chinese were forced to reopen trade with Great Britain on British terms. This meant that British representatives, who had no interest in regulating the sale of opium, would take care of customs services in inspecting imports and trying lawbreakers. The U.S. saw Britain’s actions as an opportunity and followed suit. It’s a shameful part of American history, but the modern day parallels between the opium trade of the 1800s and the modern opioid trade are undeniable.

The Chinese government has finally started taking steps to crack down on the manufacture and export of fentanyl. After Trump called out China, the Chinese government made fentanyl and many related compounds into controlled substances. Earlier this year, two Chinese traffickers were charged with producing fentanyl to sell via the Internet. The dark web has a booming market where all sorts of illegal things are bought and sold—from drugs to guns and even prostitutes. The US isn’t guiltless here, either. The biggest drug exported from the US to China is methamphetamines, which causes similar socio-economic issues to opioids on Chinese soil.

According to the CDC, there were about 1,300 overdose deaths a month in Georgia since 2016. From 2014 to 2015, there was a 72 percent increase of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The number of overdose deaths from fentanyl surpassed painkillers and heroin for the first time in history just last year. If you know anybody using these or other drugs, don’t wait to seek help.

Hopefully, over the next few years, the U.S. and China can come to an agreement and curb our massive problems with the drug trade. While the use of any opioids can be fatal, fentanyl is especially deadly because users are often unaware they’re taking it. Dealers use it to “step on” heroin because fentanyl is cheaper and more readily available. Suppliers press counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl in clandestine labs. “Yeah, I’ve taken some [in pills]. It tastes like cardboard,” an anonymous freshman at Georgia State said.

He also said he knew three people who died from overdoses since last year. So if you’re thinking about buying some Xanax, Percocets, or any other prescription drugs illegally, realize it could be a death sentence. The death of Lil Peep is a tragic example of what can happen when someone ingests fentanyl unwittingly. Hours before he was found dead, Lil Peep posted a video on Instagram where he said, “I just took six Xanax. I’m lit, I’m good, I’m not sick. I’ma see y’all tonight.” The toxicology report states the cause of death was an overdose on Xanax and fentanyl. So no matter how much respect you have, you never know what you’re really buying from the streets.

Drug dealers do not care if you live or die—they just care about getting your money. Don’t buy drugs from shady dealers. If you’re selling drugs, take a minute to think about the damage you’re doing to the people around you. Look at the kids you’ve sent to the hospital from an overdose, or think about where all their money came from. You caused some kid to take steal from his mom’s purse or rob an innocent citizen. And for what? Some cash? You have to realize selling drugs leaves a trail of destruction in your wake. It’ll just land you in a compromising situation with sleepless nights as you worry about being potentially incarcerated. Quit now.


  1. Buy and large 500 to 520 people a day die from Opioid overdose and 90% of that number is reported to be white people. Any Black person out there using this potentially lethal drug is a fool. Most of the addictions are as a result of people who got them from stealing them out of their relatives medicine chest and not as a result of a doctor over prescribing them. China may be sending Fentanyl over here but the addict could care less. They want to get high. No problem then but if it costing me more in taxes to help this person be revived after the overdose, I would just as soon let them die. No one put a gun to their heads and told them to engage in this type of activity. As far as it goes, #Ifeelnothing. White folk called it a crime and locked up people even if they had NOTHING to do with the crime. They now want to use drug courts for white people like they are more precious than Black folk who built this country not of our own free will. The solution for us it to separate from these white people and let them overdose and do mass shooting killing themselves.

    • All opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Signal or Georgia State.

      Why don’t you just leave the US then?

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