It's odd how this is starting to get traction in international media over the last year or so while I remember hearing the first NPR shows on it maybe 8 or so years ago. Opiate abuse has been a theme of US drama series for some time too, like Justified and Nurse Jackie.
I was talking to a Finnish consultant anesthetist who I was skiing with at Easter about it and he was shocked to hear what is happening in the US, which seemed odd as he was saying many of the opioids involved in the US epidemic he regularly prescribes to patients for post-surgery pain. But the national dimensions to opioid abuse is interesting anyway, and regulation must be a major part of it - in the time when I was living in Finland virtually all the opiate addicts were abusers of Subutex, which I understand is basically like methadone, a heroin replacement drug, but very few Finns ever used heroin first! The stories from the police was a lot of the subutex was grey market imports from Estonia or the other Baltics. I had never heard of the drug before moving there, although having lived in Glasgow before had heard loads about methadone.