By now, you may know a family shattered by the opioid epidemic. In 2017, there were 47,000 opioid deaths. That’s more Americans than were killed in vehicle accidents or by firearms. One drug, fentanyl, is like rocket fuel in the sharp rise of the crisis. Fentanyl is a painkiller invented in the 1960’s and used to relieve the agony of advanced cancer. It is 50 times more potent than heroin. But today fentanyl can be ordered on the internet, by drug dealers and addicts, for an online overdose. As we first reported in April, tracking the source of this illicit trade is a story that begins with James Rauh. Like most in Akron, Ohio, he’d never heard of fentanyl until the police told him his son was dead.
James Rauh: They told me that the drug was so powerful that he was unable to finish his injection, and then he died immediately.
Scott Pelley: He didn’t even finish the injection?
James Rauh: He’d only, only just started the injection He didn’t even have a chance.
James Rauh’s son, Tom, was 37 when he died in 2015. He’d started opioids, years before, after an injury. When his prescription ran out, he turned to heroin. He’d been in and out of rehab more than half a dozen times when fentanyl inundated Ohio.