Overview of an epidemic
The United States is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any other year on record. Deaths from drug overdose are up among both men and women, all races, and adults of nearly all ages.1
More than three out of five drug overdose deaths involve an opioid.1 Opioids are substances that work on the nervous system in the body or specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain. Overdose deaths from opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, have nearly quadrupled since 1999.2 Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 28,000 people in 2014.1 Over half of those deaths were from prescription opioids.1
- 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.