According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, opioid overdoses kill more than 115 people in America every day. More than 60% of all overdose deaths include opioid use.
These highly addictive drugs have led to an opioid epidemic in the United States. Curious to learn more? Read on for 5 eye-opening facts about the opioid and fentanyl crisis.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are substances that come from the opium poppy plant. They come in various forms, some as illegal drugs and some as prescription medication.
Illegal street drug opioids include heroin, kratom, carfentanil, and opium.
Prescription opioids are substances such as morphine, oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
5 Facts About the Opioid Epidemic and Fentanyl Crisis
1. It Began in the Late 1990s
In the late 1990s, healthcare providers began prescribing opioid painkillers at higher rates. Pharmaceutical businesses believed they would not cause addiction. Not long after, America had a full-blown opioid epidemic due to abuse and misuse.
2. Fentalyn Is 50 to 100 Times More Powerful Than Morphine
Fentanyl was originally created to relieve pain for patients with advanced stages of cancer. Most Fentanyl-related deaths are from illegally made fentanyl. Many times it is combined with products that contain heroin or cocaine, making it even more potent.
Unfortunately, fentanyl use pushed drug overdose rates to a record high in 2017. There were 30,000 drug overdose deaths that year that involved the use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. That number was up by 9,000 from 2016.
Fentanyl was also the cause of death for the singer Prince in 2016.
3. Women Are at an Under-Recognized Risk
Although men are more likely to die from an opioid overdose, the percentage of women dying from opioid overdose has increased at a faster rate. Since 1999, overdose deaths have increased more than 400% for women compared to 265% for men.
Since women are more likely to experience chronic pain, they have an increased chance of doctors prescribing them higher doses of opioids. They may also have increased chances of becoming dependent on opioids.
Opioid-abuse also puts pregnant women and their babies at risk. Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) has increased by 300% from 2000-2009. This syndrome happens when newborn babies are exposed to prescription opioids during gestation.
4. Oxycodone and Hydrocodone Are Popular Prescription Opioids
According to Inspire Malibu, an addiction treatment center, oxycodone and hydrocodone are two of the most popular opioid prescription pain medications. They work by binding to opiate receptors in our bodies.
Although these medications effectively work to block pain signals in our bodies, they come with side effects such as difficulty breathing. In cases of overdose, extreme doses shut down breathing. This is what causes most opioid-related deaths.
5. the Estimated Economic Burden from Opioids Is Billions of Dollars
The estimated economic burden in the United States from the opioid epidemic is $78.5 billion. About $28.9 billion of that figure is due to health care and addiction treatment.
The HHS Is Taking Action
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created a 5-point strategy against the opioid epidemic and fentanyl crisis. This strategy includes improved services for addiction and treatment, better access to data and research, offering pain management options, and information about overdose-reversing medication.
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