Addressing the Opioid Crisis

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President Donald Trump speaks during the White House Opioid Summit in the East Room of the White House, March 1, 2018, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks during the White House Opioid Summit in the East Room of the White House, March 1, 2018, in Washington.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Today the White House hosted an Opioid Summit to discuss Administration-wide efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Members of President Trump’s Administration joined the Summit and detailed the actions they are undertaking to confront the opioid crisis on all possible fronts.

The Administration’s efforts to address drug addiction and opioid trafficking are focused on education and prevention, treatment and recovery, and law enforcement and interdiction. Deputy Secretary John Sullivan delivered remarks during a panel discussion focused on the latter issue-set, alongside Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Many of the illicit opioids that are killing American citizens are produced overseas, and are trafficked by criminal organizations that operate transnationally.

Addressing this dimension of the opioid crisis is the State Department’s highest drug-control priority. The State Department is committed to leveraging multiple tools and international partnerships to stop transnational criminal organizations, or TCOs, and the networks of criminal activity they perpetuate to traffic drugs and destroy American lives. 

Through the Merida Initiative, the United States is strengthening cooperation with Mexico -- the root of over 90 percent of the U.S supply of heroin -- to interdict illegal drug trafficking, find and punish criminals involved in criminal trafficking organizations, and cut off their sources of funding. We are also working with our Mexican counterparts to find new ways to disrupt the revenue streams of TCOs that are responsible for trafficking heroin and other illicit drugs into the United States and also to more aggressively eradicate poppy crops, train law enforcement, enhance border security, and bring drug traffickers to justice.

China is also a growing area of focus in the fight against opioids. The United States and China have forged a productive counter-narcotics relationship. As a result of our cooperation, China has established domestic restrictions on the production and sale of 143 substances, including a number of fentanyl related compounds. China’s tightening of regulations has significantly contributed to the reduction of these substances on the streets in the United States. 

Working with international organizations is also critical to this effort. Last spring, at the request of the United States, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted unanimously to put new international controls on the two primary ingredients that are used to produce fentanyl. This change, and other efforts, has resulted in a decline in the presence of these chemicals in the illicit drug market. And in two weeks, again at our request, the UN Commission will consider controls on the killer drug carfentanil and several other synthetic opioids.

The opioid crisis we face knows no borders. The State Department will continue to harness partnerships with other nations as we aggressively pursue the fight against opioids.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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