Across this nation, we have been seeing an alarming trend in increases in drug overdose deaths. Specifically, overdose deaths from prescription and illicit opioids have more than quadrupled in the United States since 1999. The faces of opioid abuse in our communities and the stories of addiction, overdose, and loss fuel the commitment to helping end this devastating public health crisis.
Addressing the Problem
More than 183,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids from 1999–2015. And as CDC has been tracking data on all opioid overdoses, they found three distinct waves of the epidemic:
- Increases in deaths involving prescription opioids since 1999
- Rapid increases in deaths involving heroin since 2010
- Significant increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids since 2013— particularly those involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl (IMF) and fentanyl analogues, which are found in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.
Increasing Rx Awareness
Taking on the foundation of the opioid overdose epidemic means looking at where we can make a difference in the inappropriate prescribing of opioids—preventing people from getting addicted in the first place. Anyone taking prescription opioids can become addicted to them, and taking opioids for longer periods of time or in higher doses increases the risk of addiction, overdose, and death. It is also a risk factor for heroin addiction. Despite the serious risks that come with prescription opioids, prescribers wrote nearly 67 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Americans in 2016.
For more information please visit the CDC website: