Opioids include a large group of drugs that ease pain. Doctors may order opioids for people who are in serious pain. When doctors’ instructions are followed and people take the right amount of medicine for a short time period, opioids can help relieve pain. But these medicines can be dangerous if misused. Heroin is another type of opioid – an illegal drug that people use to get high. Both opioid medicine and heroin can cause addiction, overdose and death.
Every day in the U.S. more than 130 people die after overdosing on opioids.
In 2017 there were 3,224 opioid overdose deaths in New York State.
Misuse of and addiction to opioids (heroin, prescription pain relievers, and fentanyl) has become a major public health problem. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that abuse of prescription opioids has cost the U.S. $78.5 billion a year.
Here's what we know:
- Opioids travel through the bloodstream and attach to parts of brain cells. The cells then release a signal that blocks feelings of pain and increases feelings of pleasure.
- Between 21% and 29% of patients who are given opioids for chronic pain.
- Between 8% and 12% of these patients develop an opioid use disorder.
- About 5% of patient who misuse prescription opioids move on to heroin.
- About 80% heroin users started with misusing the prescription opioids.
- The amount of opioid overdoses has increased by 30% from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.
- During this period, opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54% in 16 states.