Even as the abuse of prescription drugs remains the biggest concern for the United States, Americans are exposed to greater health risks associated with heroin use – alone or in combination with fentanyl and its analogs – causing increased number of overdose deaths, says the recently released 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA). The report, brought out by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), enlists the possible threats associated with domestic and international drug trafficking and drug abuse in the country.
The report, launched on Oct. 23, 2017, also presented an overview of the severity and magnitude of opioid epidemic in the country. “The information in the report represents data gathered over the past year, but of critical importance is the real time information we get every day from our partners. It has never been a more important time to use all the tools at our disposal to fight this epidemic, and we must remain steadfast in our mission to combat all dangerous drugs of abuse,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert Patterson.
Currently, there seems to be no let-up in the opioid crisis, ravaging the U.S., as the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows around 11.8 million aged 12 or older (4 percent) misused opioids in the U.S. in the past year. Moreover, opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) caused over 33,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2015.
The report presented some startling facts related to illicit drug abuse in the country. Some of the significant findings include:
- Controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) have contributed to a significantly high number of overdose deaths involving any illicit drug class since 2001. Moreover, CPDs have more users than MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and PCP combined.
- Americans are exposed to greater health risks associated with heroin use. Heroin, alone or in combination with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is causing increased number of overdose deaths.
- Methamphetamine use is also rampant in America. There has been a steady increase in inbound seizures of methamphetamine from Mexico since 2010. Domestic production has decreased though.
- Cocaine availability and its use are on the rise, fueled by increased coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia. New psychoactive substances (NPS) that mimic the effects of controlled substances pose serious health threats to Americans. The most commonly abused NPS in America include cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids.
- The U.S. witnessed a drastic increase in marijuana production, which is attributed to policy changes related to marijuana and increased demand for concentrated forms of marijuana. Mexican cartels continue to trouble law enforcement agencies in the U.S. through illegal production and distribution of illicit drugs in the country.
Dealing with drug misuse and abuse
While it is important to prevent drug misuse among non-users, people addicted to different illicit drugs should be encouraged to seek professional help to get over the drugs. Illicit drug use is associated with many health risks, including fatal overdoses. However, drug addiction and dependence are treatable with medication and behavioral therapy. Public awareness and education can make a big difference in helping people lead a sober life.
Hooked Sober is a source of information on drugs, alcohol, eating disorders and mental disorders. Please send your questions, concerns or comments to [email protected] or speak to a representative at 866-838-4087.