Fos­ter talks about opi­oid im­pact at Ro­tary

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

Sherri Fos­ter knows all too well the costs of il­le­gal drugs. A long­time vet­eran of law en­force­ment from the lo­cal to the fed­eral level in­clud­ing a stint with the Drug En­force­ment Agency, she has been on the front lines of a long war against sub­stance abuse of ev­ery­thing from mar­i­juana to heroin, and all points in be­tween.

Fos­ter is now fight­ing on an­other front to curb the spread of nar­cotics, and to end an epi­demic of over­doses hap­pen­ing be­cause of the drug fen­tanyl.

The tac­tic that she is in­volved in now goes di­rectly after those who are sell­ing drugs and tie them di­rectly to over­doses.

“It’s not a rev­e­la­tion to peo­ple that we’re hav­ing trou­ble with opi­oids,” Fos­ter said. “In 2017, the Pres­i­dent de­clared the opi­oid epi­demic a na­tional health emer­gency.”

She ex­plained that set into mo­tion her new role in help­ing the U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute drug deal­ers who are re­spon­si­ble for those over­doses by sell­ing drugs that have been adul­ter­ated with fen­tanyl and car­fen­tanyl in or­der to boost their ef­fec­tive­ness, but are so dan­ger­ous only tiny amounts can kill.

Cases like one she de­scribed in the Metro At­lanta area where a tod­dler died of an over­dose after she ac­ci­den­tally got hold of heroin left out on a cof­fee ta­ble that was tainted with fen­tanyl.

Or an­other which saw a stu­dent from Ge­or­gia Tech die at a party not long after grad­u­a­tion at a party cel­e­brat­ing their room­mate’s suc­cess, never know­ing they were snort­ing heroin laced with the po­tent syn­thetic nar­cotic.

“In all my years, I’ve never been af­fected like I am af­fected now, be­cause I deal with the par­ents,” Fos­ter said. “The kids are buy­ing this dope... and if you have kids I hope you talk to your kids about this and tell them don’t do it. Don’t smoke pot, don’t do dope. It sounds crazy, but gen­er­a­tions to­day think pot is OK, but what you’re not re­al­iz­ing is you’re tak­ing mar­i­juana with some­thing added. These traf­fick­ers re­ally don’t care, they just add it.”

She added that it is specif­i­cally pop­u­lar with heroin, metham­phetamines and co­caine be­cause of the in­tense high that comes from in­gest­ing fen­tanyl or other syn­thetic nar­cotics.

“Fen­tanyl is 50 to 100 times more po­tent that heroin, and there’s a drug out there called car­fen­tanyl that is even more po­tent then fen­tanyl,” she said.

Fos­ter said many of the rea­sons why peo­ple get onto these drugs is that pain man­age­ment in years past be­came much more fo­cused on doc­tors pro­scrib­ing nar­cotic-based pain re­lief med­i­ca­tions, which then hooks users who move onto more po­tent forms as their tol­er­ance for opi­oids grows greater.

So tar­get­ing those who use prod­ucts like fen­tanyl in ev­ery­thing from laced heroin to faked Xanax pills sold il­le­gally on the street is one way to com­bat the spread of such drugs, and to send a zero tol­er­ance mes­sage to deal­ers.

The hopes are that as more deal­ers are pros­e­cuted and held re­spon­si­ble for over­dose deaths, the num­ber of those deaths will start go­ing down as the il­le­gal mar­ket availabili­ty with fewer deal­ers goes down.

How­ever, she re­minded Ro­tary mem­bers that it is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure their chil­dren and family mem­bers know the dan­gers of drug use, and to pre­vent them from do­ing if pos­si­ble.

Fos­ter also said for peo­ple to be more aware of the medicines they are tak­ing and their po­ten­tial for abuse, and prop­erly dis­pose of med­i­ca­tions when they are no longer needed.

Sherri Fos­ter, a lit­iga­tive con­sul­tant for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in At­lanta and a long­time vet­eran of state and fed­eral law en­force­ment, talked about the dan­gers of opi­oids and how she and oth­ers are try­ing to hold drug deal­ers ac­count­able for over­dose deaths.

State Rep. Trey Kel­ley stopped by the Cedar­town Op­ti­mist Club to talk about the lat­est leg­isla­tive ses­sion and his role as Ma­jor­ity Whip.

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