Risks of Pharmaceutical Painkillers

What are Opioids?

Opioids are drugs prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. They are a psychoactive substance made from the opium poppy or synthetic analogues. Opioids are often prescribed for people following surgery, injuries, or to treat severe health conditions. The use of opioid drugs in the United States has reached huge levels. Opioids can result in addiction, abuse and overdoses. Even using painkillers as advised can result in raised tolerance, physical dependence, nausea and depression. Naloxone is used to treat an opioid overdose and can reverse the effects and prevent death.

By the Numbers

Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. 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) quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. (CDC)

  • 69,000 people die from opioid overdoses each year worldwide.
  • Only 10 per cent of people with an opioid dependence are receiving treatment.
  • 1 out of 5 drug overdose-related deaths do not list a specific drug on the death certificate.
  • From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the US.
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