Opioid epidemic in the United States

U.S. overdose deaths involving opioids. Deaths per 100,000 population by year.[1]
Number of yearly U.S. opioid overdose deaths from all opioid drugs
Total drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999–2017
U.S. yearly overdose deaths, and the drugs involved. Among the 70,200 deaths in 2017, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and synthetic opioids (28,466 deaths).[2]

The opioid epidemic (also known as the opioid crisis) refers to the extensive overuse of opioid medications, both from medical prescriptions and from illegal sources. The epidemic began in the United States in the late 1990s, when opioids were increasingly prescribed for pain management and resulted in a rise in overall opioid use throughout subsequent years.[3]

From 1999 to 2017, more than 399,000 people died from drug overdoses that involved prescription and illicit opioids.[4] In 2017 alone, there were 70,237 recorded drug overdose deaths, and of those deaths, 47,600 involved an opioid.[4][5] A report from December 2017 estimated 130 people every day in the United States die from an opioid-related drug overdose.[6] Use of opioids constitutes a public health emergency.[7][8][9] The great majority of Americans who use prescription opioids do not believe that they are misusing them.[10]

Those addicted to opioids, both legal and illegal, are increasingly young, white, and female, with 1.2 million women addicted compared to 0.9 million men in 2015. The problem is worse in rural areas. Teen abuse of opioids has been noticeably increasing since 2006[citation needed], using prescription drugs more than any illicit drug except cannabis; more than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined.

In 2011, the Obama administration began to deal with the crisis, and in 2016, President Barack Obama authorized millions of dollars in funding for opioid research and treatment, followed by Centers for Disease Control director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, stating that "America is awash in opioids; urgent action is critical." Soon after, many state governors declared a "state of emergency" to combat the opioid epidemic in their own states, and undertook major efforts to stop it. In July 2017, opioid addiction was cited as the "Food and Drug Administration's biggest crisis", followed by President Donald Trump declaring the opioid crisis a "national emergency." In September 2019, he ordered U.S. mail carriers to block shipments of the most powerful and dangerous opioid, fentanyl, coming from other countries.

  1. ^ Opioid Data Analysis and Resources. Drug Overdose. CDC Injury Center. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click on "Rising Rates" tab for a graph. See data table below the graph.
  2. ^ Overdose Death Rates. By National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  3. ^ Guy GP, Zhang K, Bohm MK, Losby J, Lewis B, Young R, et al. (July 2017). "Vital Signs: Changes in Opioid Prescribing in the United States, 2006-2015". MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 66 (26): 697–704. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6626a4. PMC 5726238. PMID 28683056.
  4. ^ a b Scholl L, Seth P, Kariisa M, Wilson N, Baldwin G (January 2018). "Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths - United States, 2013-2017". MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 67 (5152): 1419–1427. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6751521e1. PMC 6334822. PMID 30605448.
  5. ^ Hedegaard H (2018). "Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999-2017". NCHS Data Brief (329): 1–8. OCLC 1083547566. PMID 30500323.
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference :19 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ Alhussain, Khalid, Shah, Drishti, Thornton, James, Kelly, Kimberly. Familial Opioid Misuse and Family Cohesion: Impact on Family Communication and Well-being. ADDICT DISORD THEIR TREAT. 2019;18(4):194-204. doi:10.1097/ADT.0000000000000165.
  8. ^ Underestimated cost of the opioid crisis [Whitehouse Web site]. November, 2017. Available at: [https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/The%20Underestimated%20Cost%20of%20the%20Opioid%20Crisis.pdf www.whitehouse.gov]
  9. ^ Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Web site; September 7, 2017. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf
  10. ^ Why Do Adults Misuse Prescription Drugs? Rachel N. Lipari, Ph.D., Matthew Williams, Ph.D., and Struther L. Van Horn, M.A. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Short Report July 27, 2017 [1]