2015 National Drug Threat Assessment
The 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) is a comprehensive assessment of the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and use of illicit drugs. The drug section of this report is arranged in ranking order based on the level of threat each drug presents. The threat level for each drug is determined by strategic analysis of the domestic drug situation during 2014, based on law enforcement, intelligence, and public health data available for the period. For instance, each day in the United States, over 120 people die as a result of a drug overdose. In particular, the number of deaths attributable to controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) has outpaced those for cocaine and heroin combined. Additionally, some opioid CPD abusers are initiating heroin use, which contributes to the increased demand for and use of heroin. For these reasons, CPDs and heroin are ranked as the most significant drug threats to the United States. Fentanyl and its analogs are responsible for more than 700 deaths across the United States between late 2013 and late 2014. While fentanyl is often abused in the same manner as heroin, it is much more potent. Methamphetamine distribution and abuse significantly contribute to violent and property crime rates in the United States. Further, cocaine distributors and users seek out methamphetamine as an alternative as cocaine availability levels decline. While marijuana is the most widely available and commonly used illicit drug and remains illegal under federal law, many states have passed legislation approving the cultivation, possession, and use of the drug within their respective states. Marijuana concentrates, with potency levels far exceeding those of leaf marijuana, pose an issue of growing concern. Finally, the threat posed by synthetic designer drugs continues to impact many segments of the American population, particularly youth. A full discussion for each of these drugs cannot be undertaken without first examining the criminal groups that supply these substances to distributors and users in the United States.