Parts of this article (those related to Charts) need to be updated.November 2020)(
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.
From 1999 to 2017, more than 399,000 people died from drug overdoses that involved prescription and illicit opioids. In 2017 alone, there were 70,237 recorded drug overdose deaths, and of those deaths, 47,600 involved an opioid. A report from December 2017 estimated 130 people every day in the United States die from an opioid-related drug overdose. Use of opioids constitutes a public health emergency. The great majority of Americans who use prescription opioids do not believe that they are misusing them.
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, 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.
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