In this Webinar, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will present an overview of the opioid overdose epidemic and its public health burden, followed by a description of the multi-faceted public health approach.
Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 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, have quadrupled, and currently, 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. While the amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices has significantly increased, the amount of pain that Americans report has not.
From 2002 to 2013, past month heroin use, past year heroin use, and heroin addiction have all increased among 18-25 year-olds. The number of people who started to use heroin in the past year is also trending up. Among new heroin users, approximately three out of four report misusing prescription opioids prior to using heroin. The increased availability, lower price, and increased purity of heroin in the US have been identified as possible contributors to rising rates of heroin use. According to data from the DEA, the amount of heroin seized each year at the southwest border of the United States was approximately 500 kg during 2000–2008. This amount quadrupled to 2,196 kg in 2013. Heroin-related deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2015, with 12,989 heroin deaths in 2015. The largest increase in overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015 was for those involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone), which rose from 5,544 deaths in 2014 to 9,580 deaths in 2015. One of these synthetic opioids, illicitly manufactured fentanyl, drove the increase. Illicit fentanyl is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge.