Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States.
- From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose.
- Around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.
- On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
- In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999.
From 1999-2017, almost 400,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids.
This rise in opioid overdose deaths can be outlined in three distinct waves:
- The first wave began with increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990s 3, with overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) increasing since at least 1999.
- The second wave began in 2010, with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin.
- The third wave began in 2013, with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids – particularly those involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl (IMF). The IMF market continues to change, and IMF can be found in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.
A recent study found that more than two-thirds of patients who undergo surgery do not use all of their painkillers, and few safely store or dispose of these medications. Proper disposal of unused opioids can help prevent misuse and is an important part of addressing the opioid abuse epidemic. Click the link to find the nearest disposal location near you
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