A new annual report underscores the scope and magnitude the threat of drugs has on Americans, said Robert Patterson, acting administrator of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
While the current opioid crisis has received much attention, methamphetamine, cocaine, new psychoactive substances and marijuana remain all-too-abused, according to the 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment released Monday by the DEA.
But fentanyl and other opioids are the drugs most responsible for pushing overdose deaths ahead of those from firearms, motor vehicle crashes, suicides and homicides each year since 2011.
Here are five key findings from the report:
Prescription abuse prevalent: Controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) have been linked to the largest number of overdose deaths of any illicit drug class since 2001. Although abuse has lessened in some areas, CPDs are still used by more people than cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine and PCP combined.
Overdose deaths continue to rise: The mixing of heroin with analogues of the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has exacerbated this situation. Often the product is entirely fentanyl, which is approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl also continues to be made more widely available in the form of counterfeit prescription pills marketed for illicit street sales.
Meth seizures on rise: The methamphetamine threat has remained prevalent. Inbound seizures of methamphetamine from Mexico have increased every year since 2010, but domestic production has declined.
Array of new chemical compounds: Manmade psychoactive substances that mimic the effects of controlled substances commonly abused in the United States include synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones, which are available from China and packaged into a variety of forms domestically. Traffickers continue to modify chemical formulas to create new substances to circumvent regulations and expand their market.
Mexican cartels remain primary threat: The cartels are the principal wholesale drug sources for domestic gangs responsible for street-level distribution. The Sinaloa Cartel maintains the most expansive footprint in the United States, while the Jalisco New Generation Cartel has increased its presence across the United States.
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