The crisis that is sweeping the nation


Hundreds of thousands have fallen victim to the fentanyl crisis that is sweeping the nation, and a New Jersey teacher’s recent fentanyl overdose is yet another incident added to this list of casualties.  

On Nov. 29, 2022, students at Roosevelt Intermediate School found Frank Thompson, a middle school art teacher, unconscious in his classroom after he overdosed on fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain. A school nurse treated him until a school resource officer was notified, who then administered naloxone, an opioid antidote. After searching his classroom, authorities found drugs and drug paraphernalia, equipment that is used to consume illegal drugs, in one of the closets. Thompson has been charged with endangering the welfare of children, possession of fentanyl, and possession of drug paraphernalia and is set to appear in court on Feb.1, 2023.  

“In this case, the swift actions of Officer Riga, who is on-site at Roosevelt Intermediate each school day, proved instrumental in maintaining the safety of the students and administering potentially life-saving measures to Mr. Thompson,” Christopher Battiloro, Westfield Police Chief, said in a statement.  

Fentanyl is often added to heroin to increase its potency or disguised and sold as highly potent heroin. This has led to a dramatic increase in overdose-caused deaths due to people taking lethal doses of this drug without realizing it. The CDC states that 107,375 people died from overdose and drug poisoning in the U.S. in 2022, and 67% of these deaths were the result of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. 

“Drug traffickers are driving addiction and increasing their profits by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl until it is too late,” Anne Milgram, DEA Administrator, said 

Incidents like these have drawn even more attention to the drug crisis in America. More and more lives are being lost to overdoses and addiction, highlighting the need for more awareness and movements to combat the issue. The U.S. government created the 2022 National Drug Control Strategy which took many steps to beat the overdose epidemic, including the creation of the American Rescue Plan which set aside almost four billion dollars for mental health and substance use disorder services. 

“I know certain people who have been affected by the overdose epidemic, and it has negatively affected so many families and friendships,” Kierra Hawkes, junior, said.  

High profile stories like Thompson’s continue to draw national attention to the ongoing fentanyl crisis in the U.S. and the many lives that have been lost.