The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released the 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary this week.
Some key facts are:
- The number of people reporting current heroin use nearly tripled between 2007 (161,000) and 2014 (435,000).
- Deaths due to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and its analogues, increased 79 percent from 2013 to 2014.
- Deaths involving heroin more than tripled between 2010 (3,036) and 2014 (10,574) – a rate faster than other illicit drugs.
New to this year’s summary is information on a recent phenomenon—fentanyl disguised as prescription pills—something allegedly responsible for the death of 19 people in Florida and California during the first quarter of 2016. Motivated by enormous profit potential, traffickers are exploiting high consumer demand for illicit prescription painkillers, tranquilizers, and sedatives by producing inexpensive counterfeits containing fentanyl that can be sold on the street.
“We tend to overuse words such as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘horrific,’ but the death and destruction connected to heroin and opioids is, indeed, unprecedented and horrific,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg in a news release. “The problem is enormous and growing, and all of our citizens need to wake up to these facts.”
The number of users, treatment admissions, overdose deaths, and seizures from traffickers all increased over those reported in last year’s summary. In addition, heroin was the greatest drug threat reported by 45 percent (up from 38 percent last year and 7 percent, by comparison, in 2007) of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies responding to the 2016 National Drug Threat Survey.