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Team Trump's war on drugs still infected with denial

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Fentanyl is hazardous even to an arresting officer's health.

Officer Chris Green in East Liverpool, Ohio, found out last summer.

The Drug Enforcement Administration warned police nationwide that fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid that killed Prince and thousands of others, could not only kill drug users but officers exposed to small amounts.

Yet, despite protecting himself with masks and gloves when processing drug-related crime scenes, one of Officer Green's colleagues told him after one Friday night traffic stop that he had something on his shirt.

The officer had found the driver and his car covered in a white powder, he told the local Morning Journal. Without thinking much about it, he casually brushed the powder off with his bare hand.

And after a few minutes he fell to the floor.

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"I started talking weird. I slowly felt my body shutting down. I could hear them talking, but I couldn't respond," Green told Morning Journal. "I was in total shock. 'No way I'm overdosing,' I thought."

But he was. Although some medical experts have expressed doubts that he could have overdosed from merely touching fentanyl, they agree that he might have inhaled some particles while brushing off his shirt.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that sounds like a suicide kit. It has fueled a crisis that reportedly was responsible for 64,000 deaths in 2016, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and its relative carfentanil, widely described as elephant tranquilizer, is said to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

Yet when an ambulance crew administered a dose of the opioid antidote Narcan, Green tried to refuse it. Other officers insisted. "Apparently, I was in denial," Green said, until other officers insisted.

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(c) 2018 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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