The American Opioid Crisis

Two years ago, the United States Department of Health and Human Services declared opioids a  public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis. This action came after almost three decades of having pharmaceutical companies reassure the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.

As of 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the opioid crisis has led to, “More than 130 people in the United States to die after overdosing on opioids, every single day.” 

The news coverage has been overwhelming and some experts fear that we are becoming desensitized to the constant barrage of information on this epidemic. The impacts can be felt not only in the family structure but in our social fabric and economic dealings. The misuse of and addiction to opioids, which include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is truly a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as our collective social and economic welfare.

What We Know…


What are Opioids? 


Opioids are a classification of drugs that are derived from or are a synthetic version of opium. These types of drugs bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting pain signals. They also activate the reward areas of the brain by releasing the hormone dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria or a "high."

The most abundant natural opioid found in opium is morphine. It has been used as a pain reliever for decades and has been replicated to come in higher and lower doses as needed by the patient or the pain level. Other examples of common opioids include Codeine, Demerol, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Oxycodone, and Tramadol


What We Can Do


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is focusing its efforts on five major priorities. These include: 

  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services

  • Promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs

  • Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance

  • Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction

  • Advancing better practices for pain management

If you suspect that a friend, family member, or coworker has become addicted to pain medication, reach out for treatment now. Call the number on the site or request more information.