"Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.
Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.
Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.
94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”
In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were current non-medical users of pain reliever, with 122,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers.
In 2015, an estimated 21,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 5,000 were current heroin users. Additionally, an estimated 6,000 adolescents had heroin a heroin use disorder in 2014.
People often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of non-medical opioid use. Most adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers are given them for free by a friend or relative.
The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007. Source