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The Opioid Epidemic in America

Our nation is currently experiencing an opioid epidemic.

Historical Events & the Rise in Opioid Overdoses in the US

The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions, with over 80,000 people dying of opioid overdoses in 2021 in the United States. 

First Wave

The opioid epidemic has been traced back to the rise of prescription-based opioids starting in 1999, as the image below shows. Pharmaceutical companies and doctors began looking for a way to treat moderate to severe pain that would also have a lower rate of side effects. Opioids were seen as an alternative and a push towards using these medications was seen.

Second Wave

The second wave occurred when patients who were already dependent or addicted to the opioid pills turned to other street drugs that were stronger and cheaper such as heroin. Both prescription and heroin deaths have been leveled off or decreased since 2015, but a new third wave has sadly begun.

Third Wave

The third wave is being powered by fentanyl, which is close to 50 times stronger than heroin and accounts for the vast majority of opioid overdose deaths today. This program will teach you about overdoses, naloxone, and how to save lives by taking A.C.T.I.O.N. 

From 1999-2020, over 564,000 people have died from an opioid-related overdose.