Puerto Rico’s opioid problem doesn’t compare to that on the US mainland—yet. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the US territory could quickly catch up.
Several factors have compounded the problem post-Maria. Pharmacies became less stringent with prescriptions, while the disaster exacerbated mental health disorders. And dealers reacted to disrupted smuggling routes and increased attention from law enforcement by replacing imported heroin with locally produced fentanyl. Puerto Rico also failed to apply for a $7.8 million grant that could have helped drug users get treatment.
Many fear the problem will only get worse, but is impossible to measure—the government has stopped counting fatal overdoses.