How Does the Opioid Crisis in America Affect the Postal Service?

March 12, 2018

More than 42,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016 – five times higher than in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Illegal opioids, including increasingly potent synthetic versions such as fentanyl, account for about half of those deaths.

In our recent blog “Opioids and the Mail,” which was based on a Senate hearing on the crisis, we noted the potential weaknesses in the international mail system, which is increasingly being used to move synthetic opioids. The blog discussed the challenges the Postal Service faces in dealing with illicit drugs in the mail.

We initiated this audit based on a congressional request to examine the role the Postal Service network might have in facilitating illicit drug distribution, explore the associated risks and vulnerabilities in the system, and identify opportunities to mitigate those risks.

  • Are you aware of vulnerabilities in the domestic mail stream we should consider?

If you suspect illegal drug movement using the U.S. mail, please report this activity to the USPS OIG Hotline by going to our website ( and completing the on-line complaint form.


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