According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), every day more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. 

“The misuse of and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare,” the NIDA website claims. As well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. 

Research from the NIDA indicates that in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. Opioid overdose rates began to increase. In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose. 

The NIDA website says, “Roughly 21% to 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Between 8% and 12% develop an opioid use disorder. An estimated 4% to 6% percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin. About 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.”