Opioid use in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts
Statistics and facts about opioid use in the U.S.
Opioids are narcotic drugs that affect the nervous system and act as a pain reliever. They include synthetic or partly synthetic drugs that mimic opiates, such as heroin. Common prescription opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone. While opioids are a common and effective method of treating severe and chronic pain, long term use and abuse can lead to addiction, physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Opioids are some of the most commonly abused drugs worldwide, with user numbers exceeding those of cocaine and ecstasy.
In recent years, the United States has seen an increase in deaths related to heroin and prescription opioid abuse. This spike in the use of heroin and abuse of prescription opioids has led many to claim that the U.S. is currently going through a heroin and opioid epidemic. However, a recent Statista survey found that a surprising 27 percent of respondents stated they had heard of opioids but were not sure exactly what they are. Access to cheap heroin and the ease of receiving prescriptions for opioids have been seen as causes of the epidemic. The similarity between heroin and opioids also encourages addicts to use these two drugs as alternatives for each other; when an opioid addict finds it difficult to receive a prescription for opioids, heroin can provide a cheap and accessible alternative.
A recent survey from 2016 found 71 percent of respondents felt that heroin abuse was an extremely serious or very serious health problem. Although the dangers of heroin use are well known, the number of people who try heroin for the first time every year has increased in recent years. In 2015, an estimated 828,000 people in the U.S. consumed heroin in the past year, over double the number that was recorded in 2005.
As opioids are used for medical purposes, they can be easier to obtain than other drugs and the associated dangers often misjudged. A Statista survey from 2017 found that a majority of opioid consumption was for post-surgical pain. The estimated number of people who use opioids for nonmedical purposes is much higher than that of recreational heroin use. In 2014, approximately 10.34 million people misused prescription opioids, with one survey finding that 44 percent of respondents personally knew someone who had at some time been addicted to prescription painkillers.
Solutions to tackling the U.S.’s heroin and opioid crises include limiting prescriptions of opioids and improving access to care for those with substance abuse problems. Many believe the federal government and state governments are not doing enough to combat these problems, while others blame the users and patients themselves. Interestingly, one study found that the percentage of people who abused their opioid prescription was almost double in states prohibiting medical marijuana, compared to states that permitted marijuana for medical purposes.
Picture: freeimages.com / Danny de Bruyne
|High estimate of the percentage of the global population who used opioids in 2014||.8%||Details →|
|Country with the highest share of fentanyl consumption worldwide in 2014||United States||Details →|
|Country with the highest share of morphine consumption worldwide in 2014||United States||Details →|
|Number of those aged 12 years and older who consumed heroin in the past year as of 2015||828k||Details →|
|Number of adults aged 18 to 25 years who consumed heroin in the past year as of 2015||217k||Details →|
|Deaths from opioids||Values||Statistic|
|Increase in heroin overdose deaths among Caucasians between 2010 to 2014||267%||Details →|
|Number of overdose deaths from prescription opioids in 2015||22,598||Details →|
|Percentage of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who had been prescribed opioid-based pain medication for service-related injuries as of 2015||28%||Details →|
- Consumption of major synthetic opioids by type in the U.S. 2009-2014Consumption of major synthetic opioids by type in the U.S. 2009-2014
Consumption of major synthetic opioids in the U.S. from 2009 to 2014, by type (in kilograms)
- Number of heroin consumers in the U.S. 2015, by ageNumber of heroin consumers in the U.S. 2015, by age
Number of individuals taking heroin in the United States in 2015, by age group*
- Leading relation types to people addicted to prescription painkillers in U.S. 2016Leading relation types to people addicted to prescription painkillers in U.S. 2016
Relation to a person known to have ever been addicted to prescription painkillers in the United States as of 2016
- Deaths from drug overdose in the U.S. 2014 and 2015, by drug typeDeaths from drug overdose in the U.S. 2014 and 2015, by drug type
- Availability of LSD as perceived by U.S. 12th graders 1975-2016Availability of LSD as perceived by U.S. 12th graders 1975-2016
- Drug overdose death rate U.S. 2015, by state Drug overdose death rate U.S. 2015, by state
- Major countries based on amount of confiscated ecstasy 2014Major countries based on amount of confiscated ecstasy 2014
- Addicts and consumers of illegal drugs worldwide 1990-2014Addicts and consumers of illegal drugs worldwide 1990-2014