America’s Heroin and Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: March 22, 2016 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building


  • Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.
  • Experts believe the current epidemic of opioid abuse has contributed to an increase in heroin deaths as opioid consumers move towards heroin use.
  • In recent years, opioid-related overdoses have begun to decrease while heroin-related overdoses have sharply increased.
  • According to the DEA, Mexican based criminal organizations are the principal suppliers of heroin in the United States. Members emphasized a need to stop the flow of heroin across the southern border.
  • Primary and secondary prevention programs are in place to decrease the use of potential gateway drugs in youth and others vulnerable to heroin use.
  • In 2015, $400 million was appropriated to address the opioid epidemic – an increase of $100 million. To date, none of the money has been spent.


  • To highlight the alarming increase in abuse of illegal opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as controlled prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
  • To examine the strategies of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to address opioid abuse.


  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids increased 200 percent from 2000 to 2014.
  • In 2014, sixty-one percent of drug overdose deaths involved some form of opioid. On average, 78 Americans die daily from overdoses of heroin and painkillers.
  • Researchers find prescription opioid abuse serves as a gateway to heroin use, as 80 percent of heroin initiates previously misused prescription drugs.
  • Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show increasing numbers of high school students and young adults using OxyContin.


Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL): “Treatment is at the end of the process — they’ve already been addicted. We have got to stop this stuff at our borders.”

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH): “[Heroin] is certainly a scourge that is affecting everyone. … How can we find resources to provide treatment [to incarcerated addicts]?”

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI): “Mr. Boticelli, what efforts is the U.S. engaging in to work with governments where heroin is produced to cut off the supply?”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable Michael Botticelli Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy The White House Document
Mr. Lou Milione Deputy Assistant Administrator for Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration U.S. Department of Justice Document
Ms. Kana Enomoto Acting Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration U.S. Department of Health Services Document
Leana S. Wen, M.D., MSC., FAAEM Health Commissioner Baltimore City Health Deaprtment Document
The Honorable Teresa Jacobs Mayor of Orange County Document