DEA: Heroin-related deaths tripled in four years
WASHINGTON - A new report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency analyzing the nation’s ongoing heroin use health crisis says deaths involving heroin tripled between 2010 and 2014.
Other key facts in the report include:
- 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.
The DEA was especially concerned about the recent phenomenon of fentanyl disguised as prescription opiate pills. The pills have been connected to the deaths of 19 people in Florida and California during 2016’s first quarter. Traffickers are exploiting high consumer demand for illicit prescription painkillers by producing inexpensive counterfeits that contain the highly potent fentanyl. In Baton Rouge, one man was convicted of pressing heroin into counterfeit prescription pill form in a similar profit-driven drug trafficking move.
“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. “The problem is enormous and growing, and all of our citizens need to wake up to these facts.”
The DEA says the number of users, treatment admissions, overdose deaths and seizures related to the drugs increased over last year’s summary. Heroin was the greatest drug threat reported by 45 percent (up from 38 percent last year and 7 percent in 2007) of state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies that responded to a 2016 survey. Law enforcement agencies across the country reported seizing larger than usual quantities of heroin in 2016. An 80 percent increase of heroin seizures has been reported over the past five years.
The entire 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary can be viewed online.