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Seattle’s Tragic, Record-Breaking Year – HotAir

The year 2023 saw a number of records being shattered under the administration of Joe Biden, though few of them could be described as admirable or desirable. Few locations in the United States exemplify that fact better than Seattle, Washington, and the surrounding region of King County. Seattle was busy setting records in statistics including people fleeing the area and rising homelessness. But perhaps the grimmest statistic of them all was the record number of drug overdose deaths recorded, with fentanyl being the culprit in the vast majority of incidents. As the Daily Wire reports this week, the Emerald City racked up nearly 1,300 fatal overdoses from drugs and alcohol last year. That’s an increase of more than 30 percent from the prior year and far, far above pre-pandemic levels.

The Seattle area notched a grim record for deaths that involved fentanyl last year, with more than a thousand fatal overdoses.

King County saw a total of 1,284 fatal overdoses from drugs and alcohol in 2023, and 1,060 of them involved fentanyl, according to county data. Another 72 suspected overdoses from last year are pending toxicology reports.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is about 50 times more potent than heroin, has been on the rise in the U.S. for years, but last year’s numbers are more than a 30% spike over 2022, which saw 717 fentanyl-related deaths in King County.

This is a sad reminder of how “far” we’ve come in such a short period of time. In 2015, only three people in King County fatally overdosed on fentanyl in the entire year. As of October of last year, roughly 18 people were dropping dead in that fashion every week. Too many drug users in that area have taken to mixing fentanyl with methamphetamines. Approximately half of the overdose deaths there last year involved that toxic combination.

How did we reach this deadly state of affairs? One of the more obvious causes is the nation’s open border with Mexico. It’s long been known that the precursor chemicals used to produce fentanyl are made primarily in China and then shipped to Mexico where they are blended into fentanyl by the drug cartels. The drugs show up in a variety of forms, many looking like candy and they are smuggled into the United States in massive amounts. No matter how many shipments are seized by border agents, even more find their way through and show up on the streets of cities like Seattle.

But we can’t place the blame for the drug overdose epidemic solely on the shoulds of China or even Joe Biden’s open border policies. There wouldn’t be a market for these “products” if there weren’t people lining up to purchase them. Some of this might be attributable to the pandemic lockdowns when people were forced into their homes with far less human contact. Lonely, isolated, depressed people can fall into drug and alcohol abuse more easily than those leading productive lives alongside other members of the community.

I suspect there’s an even larger cultural angle to these patterns. We are seeing the emergence of a generation where traditional values of gainful work and individual productivity are often less highly valued than in previous eras. Younger people on social media sometimes express resentment of the necessity to maintain a job and earn a living. Too many would rather be social media “influencers” than do something that’s actually productive. That may wind up working out for a very small number of them, but for most, it’s a path to obscurity. As many of our grandmothers reliably informed us, idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. And sadly, at least for some, idleness can lead to loneliness and then a debilitating cycle of addiction, as mentioned above.

There are things the government can and should do to combat this overdose epidemic, but they are limited in resources. In the end, it’s a personal choice for anyone who has fallen into this trap. Sometimes, people have to hit rock bottom before they reach out for help and try to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, others keep right on falling and they wind up being a statistic on the rainy sidewalks of Seattle or elsewhere.

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