Opioid Facts

Opioids include:

  • Illegal drugs like heroin;
  • Prescription pain drugs including oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine; and
  • Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amount of dispensed prescription opioids nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2015. Opioids bind to certain receptors in your body to minimize your perception of pain. They also can cause a number of side effects and affect your mood, breathing and blood pressure.

While prescription opioids can fulfill an intended purpose under the direction of a physician, the availability and addictive qualities of opioids – including pain medications – has led to a high number of deaths and overdoses. In 2012, U.S. healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. As well, when prescription pills can no longer be refilled, people who are dependent on opioids often turn to heroin as a substitute.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services recently stated that the national opioid epidemic is killing Minnesotans at “an alarming and increasing rate”. Since 2000, opioid overdose deaths have increased 430 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

In 2016, alone, 2,450 opioid overdoses were reported in Minnesota, and 376 of those people died. The Minnesota Department of Health compiles statewide data on opioid misuse. View here.

In addition, the CDC reports that heroin use has increased among most age and income levels. Between 2010 and 2015, heroin-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled in the United States. Nearly 13,000 people died in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses in the U.S.

Those who take opioid pain medications and people who use heroin are most at-risk for opioid overdose. Those who previously suffered from opioid use disorder or overdose are also at considerable risk for relapse.

The dangers and risk continue to rise as substances like heroin and/or cocaine are increasingly being cut with fentanyl or other agents to increase drug potency and deliver greater profits – sometimes without the knowledge of the user. As an illegal and unregulated product, each purchase is a drastically different user experience and can often result in drug overdoses.

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