In recent years, opioids have become an epidemic in the United States. Opioids are medications that relieve pain and can include prescription drugs such as hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, fentanyl, and related drugs. Heroin is also a type of (illegal) opioid.


  • Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the U.S and the leading cause of death for those under 50. source

  • About 15 million people aged 12 or older used prescription drugs non-medically in the past year, and 6.5 million did so in the past month. source

  • Three-quarters of high school heroin users started with prescription opioids. source

  • About 2 million Americans are now in the throes of prescription opioid abuse or dependence, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and more than 165,000 men and women died from a prescription opioid overdose between 1999 to 2014. source

  • Adolescent male athletes are twice as likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers and four times more likely to abuse the pills than non-athletes. source

  • Drug deaths in America are rising faster than ever; roughly 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, as compared to the peak of deaths caused by HIV (approximately 48,000 in 1995). source

  • A. Overdoses related to heroin and opioids rose faster in New York State than in almost any other state. source

  • Westchester County reported the 7th highest number of heroin deaths in New York State in 2015 among its 62 counties. source

  • In the 2013 and 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 50.5% of people who misused prescription painkillers got them from a friend or relative for free, and 22.1% got them from a doctor. source

  • Nearly 50% of young people who inject heroin start by abusing prescription drugs and 4 out of 5 heroin users overall began using prescription drugs recreationally. Additionally, 2/3 of teens who abuse prescription pain relievers say that they got them from family or friends. source

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