What is the prevalence of opioid abuse in the US?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: David W Dixon, DO; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

Opioids are powerful pain killers that are highly addictive. Opioid dependence affects nearly 5 million people in the United States and leads to approximately 17,000 deaths annually. [1]  According to the CDC, the death rate from overdoses tripled from 6.1 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 19.8 in 2016 and rose 20% from 2015 to 2016. The number of people fatally overdosing on fentanyl and other synthetic opiates more than doubled from 9,580 in 2015 to 19,413 in 2016. [2] Half of deaths due to drug overdose are related to prescription drugs, according to a report on the leading cause of deaths from injury in the United States. [3]  In 2017, researchers announced that US life expectancy was down for a second straight year, the first 2-year decline since the early 1960s when flu deaths were likely to blame. The current culprit is the opioid overdose epidemic. [4]


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