The Opioid Abuse Epidemic

There is not one easy solution to the opioid abuse epidemic. It’s a complex issue that requires stakeholders across government, the healthcare supply chain, public health, prevention and healthcare communities working together to provide patients, families and communities with information and tools to address the crisis.

Overprescribing and Overuse

Opioid prescribing in the U.S. hit its highest point in 2010 with providers writing more than 80 prescriptions per 100 patients.

Since 2010 the number of prescriptions has dropped more than 10 percent.

Recent government data estimate that close to 92 million people (38 percent of the U.S. population) used prescription opioids in 2014–2015.2

A recent study found that more than two-thirds of patients who undergo surgery do not use all of their painkillers, and few safely store or dispose of these medications.3


According to the latest public data, a significant number of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Many individuals who abuse pain medicines obtained the prescription drugs from a friend or family member.

Consider these statistics:

  • Approximately 53 percent of those who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year obtained the medicine from a friend or relative.4
  • As many as one in four people who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction.5

Educate Yourself

By learning the rights, risks and responsibilities of prescription opioid use, you can help mitigate the likelihood of misuse before it occurs.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

3 JAMA Surgery:

4 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA:

5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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