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2015 DEA Drug Assessment Shows Continued Heroin and Painkiller Abuse in the US

Deaths from overdoses lead to the most deaths due to injury in the United States, far exceeding the amount of motor vehicle or firearms deaths. This information was released November 4th based on the results from the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), amping up concerns about drug use in America. The numbers have been growing steadily, with 2013 showing almost 50,000 deaths from drug overdoses with over half of this number coming from prescription pain killers and heroin abuse. Mexican drug groups continue to be the most prevalent threat to the US as they are the primary suppliers for a multitude of different drugs.

"Sadly, this report confirms what we have known for a long time: drug abuse is ending too many lives while destroying communities and families," Acting DEA Administrator, Chuck Rosenberg stated during the announcement. "We must stop drug abuse before it begins, by teaching young people at an even earlier age about its many dangers and horrors. [Police] must continue...to attack criminal groups who facilitate drug addiction. More Americans need treatment options so they can move forward living drug-free lives."

It was also released that Mexican transnational crime organizations continue to be the largest threat to American drug safety, smuggling in and providing the most cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana. These sort of criminal groups are also the ones who are responsible for the extreme acts of violence that are seen in Mexico. This violence is due to battles for turf as well as general attacks on public officials and innocent civilians and it has spread into the US as affiliated and violent gangs grow in size. They are receiving profit and finding stability in the US by purchasing drugs from regional Mexican criminal affiliates and then selling to American addicts with dangerous drugs such as heroin.

The 2015 NDTA also found:

  • The availability of heroin has increased across the country, also increasing the amount of abuse, overdoses, and deaths from drug use. There is a significant spike in heroin abuse due to an addition to prescription opioids.
  • Deaths from prescription abuse has outpaced those of heroin and cocaine combined since 2002, with abuse of controlled prescription drugs being reported far more than heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, PCP, and MDMA combined.
  • Over 700 deaths have been caused by Fentanyl (a synthetic opioid that is 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin) between 2013 and early 2015. Fentanyl is being sold as heroin or added to batches of heroin and then sold to users.
  • Chinese synthetic designer drugs continue to cause concern in the US, with synthetic phenethylamines, cannabinoids, and cathinone‚Äôs available to drug users. Many of the profits are being shipped to Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

The National Drug Threat Assessment offered an updated look at the many challenges that local communities are facing due to drug trafficking and abuse. Included in the report was quantitative data such as investigations, arrests, seizures, drug testing, law enforcement surveys, laboratory analysis, and inter-agency production and cultivation estimates as well as qualitative information from smuggling and transportation trends and subjective views on drug availability. Over 1,100 state and law enforcement agencies participated in this survey. Hopefully these results will be used to help find new ways to prevent and reduce drug abuse.


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