Rantz: One health department’s anti-fentanyl campaign actually pushes drug use

Sep 25, 2023, 12:06 AM | Updated: Sep 29, 2023, 1:00 pm

A promotional poster for fentanylfacts.org provides what a Washington health agency believes are ke...

A promotional poster for fentanylfacts.org provides what a Washington health agency believes are key tips to consider. (Photo courtesy of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)

(Photo courtesy of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department)

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) says its newest campaign warns kids about the dangers of fentanyl. But the campaign ends up encouraging kids to use fentanyl in a “safer” way. It’s dangerous and will only make the crisis worse.

The TPCHD campaign, announced Aug. 30, targets youth with awareness ads on multiple social media platforms, including Twitch, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram. Though behavior health policy coordinator Elizabeth Allen told FOX 13 the campaign’s purpose is to crack down on fentanyl use, the ads actually employ a dangerous and deadly “harm reduction” strategy. While some messaging warns against use, the main goal is “offer(ing) important info, data, resources and tools to help youth to stay safer if they decide to use drugs.”

Harm reduction is a far-left strategy that offers tips on how to continue to use drugs, while mitigating some of the risk. It’s the strategy behind handing out clean needles and crack pipes. But should TPCHD teach children how to take fentanyl?

Public health department gives drug using tips to youth

TPCHD reports overdoses are the second leading cause of injury deaths amongst 15-to-24-year-old people.

Citing fentanyl, the department says more than 60 young people under 24 suffered fatal overdoses in Pierce County between 2020 and 2022. You’d think this would be enough to put funding solely into messaging steering youth away from fentanyl and other illicit drug abuse.

Instead, they’re telling youth to use fentanyl test strips, carry naloxone (a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses), and to avoid using alone. On the TPCHD website, youth are told fentanyl is dangerous, but not with a goal to stop using. It’s because, “Once you have the facts, you’ll know why you need to stay safer—and how to do it.”

The department waits until the very last sentence of the homepage to tell youth, “Or, don’t use at all. It’s only safe to use drugs your healthcare provider appropriately prescribed.” Why is this not the lead message?

“We talked to youth, young adults and local organizations who work directly with youth who are at high risk of overdose,” a TPCHD spokesperson said to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “They told us prevention messaging alone was unlikely to work with this group and suggested we include messages about naloxone, fentanyl test strips and other harm-reduction strategies in the campaign.”

Harm reduction doesn’t actually work

While TPCHD calls harm reduction “a tried and true public health tool,” it doesn’t actually help addicts quit. It’s why the spokesperson could not cite any data showing harm reduction works with youth.

The strategy keeps people hooked on drugs while mitigating only a fraction of the risks associated with illicit substance abuse. It’s not about treating an addiction; it merely prolongs it. The position shared by merely everyone concerned with drug use amongst youth is that one around cessation. Yet tax dollars are going to teaching kids how to use deadly substances in a “safer” way. That’s abhorrent.

TPCHD, like other public health officials influenced by a progressive political worldview, have given up on convincing addicts not to use. And as they’ve adopted a harm reduction strategy, fatal overdoses have hit historic highs. They don’t seem to see the relationship between their drug-permissive messaging and dead bodies.

We know treatment works, and it would seem like youth should be a high priority. Instead, we’re treating them like junkies whose lives we don’t value. So, we’ll hand them tools to keep using and inevitably die from an overdose.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow him on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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