Opioids by the Numbers

The Importance of Life Skills
June 1, 2018

Opioids by the Numbers

By John Byars

Opioids first arrived in the U.S. aboard the Mayflower in 1620. The use of opioids dates back to 3,500 BC when the Sumerians in lower Mesopotamia harvested opium. history of opioid abuse



“The rise of the global prescription opioid epidemic started in the 1990s. At that time, pain specialists and advocacy organizations in the United States began to argue that the nation faced an epidemic of untreated pain. In turn, the American Pain Society advocated for the recognition of pain as the “fifth vital sign” and an increasing number of professional and consumer groups pushed for the increased use of opioids for pain management.


Here are some alarming numbers regarding opioids:

In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.

Approximately 25% of all patients who are prescribed opioids for pain will misuse it. Furthermore, about 10% will develop an opioid use disorder and roughly 5% will move on to using IV heroin.