What is the Opioid Epidemic and What Can Financial Institutions Do to Help Stop it?

Benay Nachin

There is an epidemic in this Country that is transcending age, race, gender, and economic status. It is clearly one of the most unrelenting concerns of our times. It is the opioid epidemic. Statistics show that close to 50,0001 people in the United States died in 2016 from an opioid overdose, including heroin. For perspective, that one-year casualty figure is comparable to the number of people who died in the Viet Nam conflict that spanned a ten-year period. Federal and state law makers, as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement, have awoken to this all-too-clear and present danger and are now working to understand it and formulate new laws in order to combat its devastation. Since the 1970 implementation of the Bank Secrecy Act, financial institutions have had reporting requirements that were designed to identify drug traffickers by following their money. However, given today’s current crisis, the question must be asked: are these measures enough to assist in the battle against opioid distribution and addiction in this country? And, do financial institutions not have a role, even a critical one, in battling this plague that has destroyed so many individual lives, families, and entire communities?

Download PDF