Last April, a couple lost their 25-year-old son to an experimental substance that was never supposed to see the light of day. Ray and Christine Henney found their son R.J. slumped over his desk, facedown on his laptop. The shocked and devastated parents were told that their son died of a drug was so far in the past that it never even got a proper name: U-47700. The synthetic opioid is a relic of the 1970s when researchers abandoned it rather than trying to push it to market. The young man’s death sheds a tragic and alarming light on an environment that allows these synthetic substances to flourish, even if only for a short while.
By now we’re all aware of the widespread devastation caused by heroin and prescription opioids. If we haven’t experienced it in our own personal lives, we’ve heard second-hand accounts of people whose lives were destroyed by these two addiction threats. As heroin and painkillers continues to dominate whatever infrequent national conversation exists regarding addiction and substance abuse treatment, other significant substance abuse issues are getting a dangerously little amount of attention. One example of this is synthetic drug abuse. As more and more Texans, and Americans in general, fall victim to these dangerous drugs, solutions continue to emerge at a snail’s pace, if at all.