Opioid Facts by the Numbers

  • $55 billion in health and social costs related to prescription opioid abuse each year
  • $20 billion in emergency department and inpatient care for opioid poisonings
  • On an average day in the U.S. more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions dispensed
  • 3,900 people daily initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids
  • 580 people initiate heroin use
  • 78 people daily die from an opioid-related overdose
  • Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin
  • An estimated 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction
  • Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
  • Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin
  • Over 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills
  • Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers
  • People often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of nonmedical opioid use.
  • Most adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers are given them for free by a friend or relative
  • The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults has nearly doubled
  • Women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men
  • Women may become dependent on prescription pain relievers more quickly than men
  • 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.