Understanding the Epidemic
Drug overdose deaths in the United States hit record numbers in 2014
More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 And since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relieversand heroin) nearly quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
We now know that overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled,2 yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.3,4 Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have also quadrupled since 1999.5
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014. MMWR 2015; 64;1-5.
- CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov.
- Chang H, Daubresse M, Kruszewski S, et al. Prevalence and treatment of pain in emergency departments in the United States, 2000 – 2010. Amer J of Emergency Med 2014; 32(5): 421-31.
- Daubresse M, Chang H, Yu Y, Viswanathan S, et al. Ambulatory diagnosis and treatment of nonmalignant pain in the United States, 2000 – 2010. Medical Care 2013; 51(10): 870-878.
- CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Demographic and Substance Use Trends Among Heroin Users — United States, 2002–2013. MMWR 2015; 64(26):719-725
- Muhuri PK, Gfroerer JC, Davies C. Associations of nonmedical pain reliever use and initiation of heroin use in the United States. CBHSQ Data Review, 2013.
- Cicero TJ, Ellis MS, Surratt HL, Kurtz SP. The changing face of heroin use in the United States: a retrospective analysis of the past fifty years. JAMA Psychiatry 2014;71:821–6.
- Jones CM. Heroin use and heroin use risk behaviors among nonmedical users of prescription opioid pain relievers — United States, 2002–2004 and 2008–2010. Drug Alcohol Depend 2013;132:95-100.
- US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. National Drug Threat Assessment Summary. DEA-DCT-DIR-002-15 2014.