Health Care

DEA Creates New Teams To Beef Up Its War Effort On Opioids

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Friday the teams will enhance the agency's ability to combat problems surrounding heroin, fentanyl and drug trafficking violence.

The enforcement teams will be established in Cleveland and Cincinnati along with New Bedford, Mass., Charleston West Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina and Long Island, New York.

The senator said the opioid epidemic has hit Long Island especially hard, with 385 opioid overdose deaths tallied by state health officials in 2015.

"More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance", acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson said in a press release.

The two enforcement teams are among six that the agency is forming across the combat an opioid epidemic that claimed roughly 34,500 lives past year.

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The locations were determined by the DEA due to the rising rates of deaths and seizures from the deadly drugs.

Nearly 500 people died after overdosing on opioids in Suffolk and Nassau counties in Long Island, more than ever recorded before.

The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released its first preliminary report in August giving an accounting of drug overdose deaths in 2016. "The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation's opioid epidemic, which has led to the largest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen". In 2016, with 13.7 opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 in Suffolk, 11.1 (per 100,000) were from opioid pain reliever overdoses, while 4.8 deaths per 100,000 were from heroin overdoses, according to State Health Department data. The teams are part of a broader DEA strategy that also includes enforcement against worldwide and domestic drug trafficking organizations, the agency said.

The DEA and local law enforcement agencies are holding prescription drug take-back events today across the country, including three in the local region, from 10 2 p.m.

The DEA is collecting pills and other solid forms of medication at the collection sites.

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