DEA: Heroin, controlled prescription drugs are top threats

Washington – Drug overdoses are the top cause of injury death in the United States, and heroin and controlled prescription drugs are the “most significant drug threats” to the nation, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment.

More than 46,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2013 ¬– most due to prescription painkillers and heroin. Every day, more than 120 Americans die from a drug overdose. Some controlled prescription drug abusers turn to heroin because it is cheaper, or they are unable to obtain prescription drugs, according to the assessment.

Other findings include:

  • Heroin availability and the number of abusers, overdoses and overdose deaths have increased.
  • Deaths from prescription drugs have surpassed deaths from cocaine and heroin combined since 2002.
  • Abuse of controlled prescription drugs is higher than abuse of abuse of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA and PCP combined.
  • From late 2013 to early 2015, fentanyl – a synthetic opioid considered 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin – has caused more than 700 deaths in the United States.

The assessment includes information on drug abuse and trafficking trends from more than 1,000 state and local law enforcement agencies.