Ohio has been described as “ground zero” for the nation’s ongoing drug overdose epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, opioids – prescription and illicit – are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Of the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2016, opioids were involved in 42,249 of those, and in Ohio alone 4,329 people died from opioid overdose. The crisis has had devastating effects locally, straining resources across multiple sectors such as public health, social services, addiction treatment, and law enforcement. After declaring a public health crisis in October 2017, in March President Trump said that he was working with Congress to find $6 billion in new funding for 2018 and 2019 to fight the crisis.
The roots of these overdose deaths have significant global dimensions, and the government’s response to the epidemic includes working with other countries to stem the tide of illicit narcotics coming into the United States. A recent blog, “The Road Ahead: The U.S. Department of State Confronts the Opioid Crisis” notes that the influx of heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, compel the Administration to work closely with other countries to combat the infiltration of substances that are killing an average of 115 Americans each day. To this end, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is working with international partners on four key issues: 1) reducing the supply of heroin and other drugs from Mexico; 2) disrupting the flow of synthetic narcotics coming from China; 3) calling for tighter global controls over the synthetic drug market; and 4) equipping law enforcement authorities in other countries with the best tools to combat narcotics trafficking.
What effect are these efforts having on the flow of drugs into the United States? How has the global community worked together to combat the drug crisis? Are enough resources being dedicated to the supply side of the epidemic? Which countries are working most efficiently to combat drug trafficking? How do political tensions on other issues such as trade and immigration impact our bilateral cooperation in this crisis? To discuss these and other questions with a top official from the U.S. State Department’s drugs and crime bureau, the Columbus Council on World Affairs invites you to join us on August 21, 2018.
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