Is Lack of Border Security Fueling Drug Addiction in the United States?

Andrew McKenna - Expert Content Editor

Updated: 01-08-2024

Immigration policy continues to be one of the most polarizing issues in the United States. As the United States continues to try to balance compassion with pragmatism and achieve sensible and realistic immigration policies, there continues to be disagreement about how to realize these ambitions. One aspect of the issue on which all sides generally agree, however, is the role that border security plays in our nation’s escalating drug crisis.

Data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) indicates that on the Southern border, which spans about 1,954 miles across four states and about 26 land Ports of Entry (POEs), there were around 241,000 pounds of illicit drugs and related ingredients seized in 2023. On the Northern Border with Canada, which spans multiple states across about 5.525 miles, 55,100 pounds were seized in FY 2023. These drugs include a wide variety of substances, including but not limited to cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and, more recently, the extremely dangerous drug fentanyl.

Border Drug Smuggling Continues to Escalate on Many Fronts

The amount of cross-border smuggling of illicit substances continues to increase year after year. Data from CBP revealed that the smuggling of fentanyl along the southern border has increased 480 percent from 4,600 pounds to an alarming 26,700 pounds from 2020 to 2023. Smuggling of other illicit substances has increased from around 1,500 to 2,800 pounds over the past year.

Although fentanyl smuggling continues to be aided by a rather porous Southern border, China is overwhelmingly responsible for trafficking precursor chemicals used to make the drug here at home. It’s estimated China is responsible for over 90 percent of illicit fentanyl found in the United States, according to data from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

From the Border to the Community

This trafficking is killing Americans in record numbers and has led to continuous annual increases in overdose deaths. While domestic supply and demand certainly have a role to play in this escalating crisis, there is a direct line that can be drawn from international infiltration to community impact. As of September, over 111,000 Americans have succumbed to overdose in 2023 alone, representing a record high in fatality.

In addition to the alarming increase in deaths, domestic substance abuse continues to destroy communities, families, careers, and quality of life for all it impacts. Whether these drugs are refined here in the United States from chemicals shipped overseas, or they come over whole from foreign supplies, the impact here in the US is undeniable.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved One from Addiction

While there is little any one person can do about border security in the United States, there are steps you can take to ensure that you and your loved ones aren’t impacted by subsequent drug addiction. Keep an eye out for the physical and behavioral signs of addiction in your family, and let your loved one know you’re there to support them if they need help with drug abuse. Areas that are close to ports of entry and impacted by economic depression and higher rates of crime are particularly vulnerable to substance abuse and resident overdose. But that doesn’t mean that those living here have to be casualties of the circumstances affecting their surroundings.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or your loved one have been impacted by the substance abuse crisis affecting the United States, you’re not alone, and you shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Millions of people are battling substance use disorder, and the supply that causes and drives their addiction often comes in through the Northern and Southern borders.

Recovery starts with proper and effective treatment, which can include detoxification and rehab. Detoxification should be administered by an experienced doctor and helps to relieve acute withdrawal symptoms, which can often lead to relapse and setbacks. Alongside detox, behavioral rehab helps to address the root causes and triggers that drive substance abuse and gives you the opportunity to develop coping mechanisms and behavioral strategies to deal with temptation and mental strain that often leads to alcohol or drug use.

It’s far too easy for macro problems like border security to have a very direct impact on individuals and families through drug addiction. If you or anyone in your family is affected, you don’t have to let these issues dictate your life and future. Get the help you need today and reclaim your life, no matter what.