Facts About the Opioid Epidemic

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

--Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. 

--Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous systems to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.

--Addiction is a primary chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. 

--Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. 

--It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction. 

--25.3 million adults in the U.S. had pain every day for the previous 3 months.

--Enough prescriptions for painkillers will be written this year to provide nearly a full bottle to every adult in America.

--91 Americans die from an opioid-related overdose every day.

--Americans constitute 4.6% of the world's population but consume approximately 80% of the global supply of opioids. 

--In 20 years, the major brands that bring opiates to market have seen retail sales soar, increasing sometimes by more than 1000% in just two decades. 

--Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin. 

--From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales, and substance abuse treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance abuse treatment admissions were six times the 1999 rate. 

--Four in five new heroin users started by misusing prescription pain relievers.


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