Council on Foreign Relations - The United States is grappling with one of its worst-ever drug crises. More than six hundred people a week die from opioid-related overdoses, and some experts say the death toll may not peak for years. Meanwhile, millions more Americans suffer from opioid addiction.
The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming a drag on the economy and a threat to national security. Analysts say the problem started with the overprescription of legal pain medications, like oxycodone, but note that it has intensified in recent years with an influx of cheap heroin and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, supplied by foreign-based drug cartels.