America is currently in the midst of an unprecedented drug crisis. In 2017, over 70,000 Americans died from an overdose, an increase of 45% over the previous year. The overdose epidemic has affected Americans of all races, age groups, and socioeconomic statuses, and it has devastated families in urban and rural areas alike. Overdoses now kill more Americans than suicides, motor vehicle accidents, firearms, and homicides, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to overdoses as a key contributor to the drop in Americans’ life expectancy.
The rise of overdose deaths in the United States has been largely driven by an increase in opioid-related deaths. Opioids—including prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl—were responsible for 68% of overdoses in 2017. An estimated 2 million Americans are currently battling opioid addiction, and in 2017, the Council of Economic Advisors estimated that the Opioid Crisis was costing the United States over half a trillion dollars in lost productivity, premature deaths, and increased healthcare and criminal justice costs. More data about the drug crisis—including assessments of current drug use and drug-induced morbidity and mortality—can be found in ONDCP’s Data Supplement.
After his inauguration, President Donald J. Trump established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to provide recommendations on how the Federal government should respond to this crisis. Shortly thereafter, he declared the Opioid Crisis a public health emergency. Since then, the government has spent or allocated over $12.9 Billion to address opioid misuse.