AKRON, Ohio — It’s been 6 years since James Rauh saw his son, Tom, alive. After years of battling an opioid addiction, Tom died in 2015 when he unknowingly injected acetyl fentanyl into his body.
“It was sent over by a Chinese manufacturer to a local drug dealer who poisoned our son with this material for profit,” said Rauh.
Since his son’s death, Rauh has led his own fight to get fentanyl off of our streets.
“It’s so potent,” he said. “Our objective is to have this poison taken out of the United States.”
He’s filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Summit County against the Chinese drug supplier responsible for his wrongful death.
“From what we understand they’re still producing fentanyl along with the Mexican cartels,” said Rauh.
He’s started the organization "Families against Fentanyl." The goal of the organization is to have fentanyl declared as a weapon of mass destruction.
“The only way to stop this, that we have found, is by declaring this and interdicting the supply, stopping it from reaching our shores. It’s our number one tactic for harm reduction.”
He’s hoping people sign his petition to make the government categorize it as a weapon of mass destruction. To view that petition click here.
“It’s killing more and more of us every year,” said Rauh.
Fentanyl deaths are on the rise. In 2020, Stark County saw 130 overdoses, its deadliest year since 2016.
“The last 6 months of last year, we know that our overdose deaths included 76% positive for fentanyl,” said Julie Priebe, an addiction recovery nurse for CommQuest in Stark County.
Just last week, Stark County issued an overdose alert.
“We are still on that path to have another very high year,” she said.
Priebe is on Stark County’s quick response team.
“We go out every week and knock on doors of those who have overdosed the prior week,” she said. “We're there to try to encourage them to get into treatment, but to also let them know, hey, these are the dangers out there.”
Those who have survived their overdoses often tell her what they thought was cocaine or pressed pills like Percocet, ended up being laced with fentanyl.
“Everything out there bought on the streets has a much higher danger factor attached to it than they realize,” said Priebe. “There are pressed pills out in the community everywhere that appear to be Percocet or appear to be Xanax. They are bought and sold on the streets and they match. They match color, they match imprint on the pills, but they are truly fentanyl.”
While she’s not connected to "Families Against Fentanyl," she said she can attest to the damage it has done.
“Has it caused mass destruction? It certainly has. I can say that unfortunately, I've witnessed it myself and doing what I do and you don't do this and this role and not be impacted by the loss.”
If you’re struggling with a drug addiction Stark County has these tips:
- Reach out to someone for help; there are people that care about you.
- Never use alone.
- Have naloxone available.
- Know your supply and/or test your product for fentanyl.
- Know symptoms of an overdose.
- Call 911 when an overdose occurs,
- Stay with the patient until help arrives
- Call the Opiate Hotline (330.454.4357) for info on detox and treatment.
You can get Narcan for free here.