Opioid abuse has become an absolute epidemic in the United States. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures report states that in 2012, over 250 million prescriptions were written for opioids in the US. That’s enough to give every adult in the country a bottle of painkillers.
Opioid painkillers including OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone), morphine, and fentanyl can be highly addictive. According to that same ASAM study, in 2014 there were 21.5 million Americans 12 years old or older with a substance use disorder, and 1.9 million Americans had a substance use disorder involving prescription opioids.
Too often, opioid abuse leads to a lethal overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2013 alone over 16,000 Americans died of an overdose related to opioid painkillers. To put that figure into perspective, this translates to over 40 Americans dying from an opioid overdose every day. And this problem is far from isolated to the US – according to the World Health Organization, about 69,000 people die from prescription opioid overdose worldwide every year.
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