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Opioid Crisis: Introduction

"Every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids." -National Institute on Drug Abuse

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What is the Opioid Crisis?

"Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid. Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled. From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

We now know that overdoses from prescription opioids are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999." -Centers for Disease Control

What classifies as an opioid?

"Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others." - National Institute on Drug Abuse

What's being done?

Recently, the opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency to "enable HHS to accelerate temporary appointments of specialized personnel to address the emergency (pending any funding needed); work with DEA to expand access for certain groups of patients to telemedicine for treating addiction; and provide new flexibilities within HIV/AIDS programs." -U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

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Guide Author

This guide was created by Kelsey O'Rourke, MLIS.

Banner image by aloisiocostalatge, Pixabay, CC0, with modifications.