According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as of 2018, there are more than one hundred and fifteen individuals who die, every day, after overdosing on opioids. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that the total estimate cost derived from opioid misuse in the United States is $78.5 billion a year. The perceived over prescribed opioids in the medical field may be one of the contributing factors in the prescription opiate drug epidemic in America.

The term opioids and opiates are frequently used interchangeably. This is a common misconception that is made about opiates and opioids. The difference between the two is as follows: an opiate is a drug that is naturally derived from the opium poppy plant. Three examples of commonly known opiates include, heroin, morphine and codeine. An opioid is more of an umbrella term that covers any substance (natural or synthetic) that works by binding to one’s brain opioid receptors. Some commonly known opioids are prescription pain killers such as Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), fentanyl and methadone. It is important to note that all opiates are opioids, but not all opioids are opiates.


There are several statistics that are illuminating surrounding the epidemic of prescription opiate abuse and addiction in the United States. Below are several statistics gathered from the 2018 National Institute on Drug Abuse.

  • It is estimated that between four to six percent of individuals who abuse prescription opioids will at some point transition to heroin.
  • Between eight and twelve percent of individuals who take opioids as prescribed by a medical professional will develop an opioid use disorder.
  • Close to eighty percent of individuals who have abused heroin had reported first a misuse of prescription opioids.
  • Almost thirty percent of the individuals who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain will misuse or abuse them.
  • There was an increase of 54 percent of overdoses from opioids in sixteen large cities across the United States between 2016-2017.

The above statistics are simply a small number of the many statistics available about the prescription opiate epidemic.


There are many possible solutions being thrown around regarding the prescription opiate epidemic, but none have been decided upon. The reality is that there must be several different adjustments and shifts that occur to begin to get this problem under control. It has become so prevalent, that attempting to implement only one solution will not be sufficient. In the meantime, it is important for each individual to take care of him or herself should he or she be faced with a prescription opiate drug addiction.

It is essential for an individual who is struggling with prescription opiate addiction or abuse to seek help. The first step in recovering would be for a person to go through a detox process. Withdrawing from prescription opiates can be dangerous and the severity of withdrawal symptoms a person may experience will depend on several factors. It is highly recommended that an individual undergoes the detox process in a medically supervised facility. This will allow an individual the proper care and supervision throughout what can be a physically challenging, emotionally grueling and mentally exhausting time period. Furthermore, it will give the individual access to twenty-four-hour care should he or she need any type of medical assistance.

Once the detox process is completed, an individual should attend a substance abuse or addiction treatment program. There are many different types of treatment programs, that last varying lengths of time, and require different levels of commitment from its participants. After a person completes a substance abuse or addiction treatment program he or she will leave with a uniquely tailored aftercare plan to help with reintegration.

Further Information

The way an individual’s frame of mind, brain, and physical body adjust to accommodate an addiction will require a lifetime of healing. Every individual seeking substance abuse or addiction treatment must select a program that will be suit his or her needs throughout this life changing experience. Substance abuse and addiction are all consuming, and if left untreated can result in extremely difficult long term consequences, and in some cases death. There is no need to go through this alone. If you or someone you know is in need of addiction treatment for drugs or alcohol, please seek help immediately. We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding substance abuse or addiction. For further information, do not hesitate contacting us at: 323-207-0276. You can also feel free to reach out via email at: [email protected].