This news outlet has expended a lot of bandwidth covering America’s worsening fentanyl epidemic. We’ve also covered the deepening border crisis fueling that epidemic – and many of the personal tragedies it has foisted upon our communities.
But we’ve never covered anyone quite like Janet Smoak …
A patient accounts director at West Columbia’s Lexington Medical Center, Smoak lost her son – 24-year-old Justin Smoak – to an accidental fentanyl overdose two years ago. As the anniversary of his passing approaches, she spoke with us about Justin – opening up about her family’s tragedy in a profoundly evocative, surprisingly introspective and illuminatingly inspiring conversation.
“Two milligrams of fentanyl can kill – one pill, one line – that can be it,” Smoak said. “Well, one pill did kill – it killed my son.”
“And that’s in our community,” Smoak added, highlighting how close-to-home this epidemic has become – and the dangers it poses to all of our friends and families.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is anywhere from 80-100 times stronger than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Developed for cancer patients – including terminally ill cancer patients – it is being produced in massive quantities by black market drug dealers because it dramatically enhances the potency and the addictiveness of a wide range of their more conventional offerings.
As this news outlet has documented in recent years, fentanyl is killing growing numbers of South Carolinians - including Justin Smoak.
"Though his earthly journey has come to an end, he will forever live in the hearts of those who love him," Justin Smoak's obituary noted.
Thanks to his mother and her support system, Smoak's memory is not only living on ... it is becoming a powerful new voice in the fight against this deadly drug.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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