2016 Facts & Figures
prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and
Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain
Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual
Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2
a substance use disorder involving heroin.
It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug
overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths
related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in
From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment
rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in
Drug Abuse. Available at
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2011). Public Policy Statement: Definition of Addiction. Chevy
Chase, MD: American Society of Addiction Medicine. Available at
Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators
in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No.
SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Retrieved from
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Drug Facts: Heroin. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug
Abuse. Available at
Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United
2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance use disorder treatment admission
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to
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
In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were current nonmedical 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
adolescents had heroin a heroin use disorder in 2014.
People often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of nonmedical
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
be given higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men.
48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.
Paulozzi MD, Jones PharmD, Mack PhD, Rudd MSPH. Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain
Prevention and Control, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011:60:5.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Opioid Painkiller Prescribing, Where You Live Makes a
Jones CM. Heroin use and heroin use risk behaviors among nonmedical users of prescription opioid pain
doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.01.007. Epub 2013 Feb 12.
Cicero TJ, Ellis MS, Surratt HL, Kurtz SP. The changing face of heroin use in the United States: a
National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2015). Drug Facts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications.
Fortuna RJ, Robbins BW, Caiola E, Joynt M, Halterman JS. Prescribing of controlled medications to
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Prescription Painkiller Overdoses: A Growing
Prescription pain reliever overdose deaths among women increased more than 400%
from 1999 to 2010, compared to 237% among men.
Heroin overdose deaths among women have tripled in the last few years. From 2010
NCHS data brief, no 190. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015. Available at