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The National Institute of Justice's Role in the Strategy To Combat Heroin and Other Opioids

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2017
5 pages

This report presents an overview of illegal opioid drug markets and the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) efforts to combat drug trafficking, drug markets, and drug use.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were an estimated 64,000 drug- overdose deaths in 2016. In cases where the drug was specified, 76 percent involved opioids. The driving force in opioid markets is prescription drug diversion and illicit synthetic drug production. Increased drug flow, higher potency drugs, and reduced retail prices have fueled increased drug use, poisoning, and overdose deaths. NIJ's Drugs and Crime Research Portfolio furthers the U.S. Justice Department's crime prevention and law enforcement goals by supporting research on violent and other drug-related crime. NIJ is committed to supporting rigorous basic and applied research on evidence-based tools, protocols, and policies for state, tribal, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. The current priority is to address drug trafficking, drug markets, and drug use that relate to heroin and other opioids. Under its controlled substances and forensic toxicology research portfolios, NIJ funds research that improves drug recognition and detection for law enforcement, medico-legal death investigation, and offender monitoring. Goals include improving identification, collection, preservation, and analysis of samples, developing more efficient methods to detect drugs, and improving interpretation of findings to better understand drug metabolism and effects on persons. Information is provided on fiscal year 2012 research on illegal prescription drug market interventions, NIJ's Drug Recognition and Impairment Research Meeting in 2015, and NIJ's drugs and crime research solicitations. Access is provided to various NIJ research projects on drug epidemiology, prevention and intervention, drug markets, drug disruption, and drug-related forensic science efforts. 2 figures and 17 notes

Date Published: December 1, 2017