HC Statistics Public Health

The opioid crisis in numbers

Most people who spend time in health care are aware of the opioid crisis. But how bad is it really? The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation provides a number of interactive graphs to quantitatively describe how the opioid crisis has evolved between 2000 and 2017. For instance, the the graph below shows how the opioid epidemic started with prescription pain killers, then moved on to heroin, and now the biggest threat are synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Also, the opioid crisis doesn’t only affect the young. Almost 3 in 10 opioid-related deaths occur in individuals aged 50 and above.

You can find additional graphics and statistics here.

Where did these statistics come from? The NIHCM website notes:

Data on opioid overdose deaths were derived from the multiple cause-of-death files of the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) data system maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


  1. Even when studying topics related to healthcare, students also hear about the most common drugs that are abused the most. I have learned that opioid is a drug that many people, young and old struggle an addiction with. What I believe to be sad is that, as you stated in the blog earlier, this type of addition usually starts off with prescription drugs. I do blame the patient for not thinking smart and limiting themselves to these drugs even when they are prescribed to it, however, I also blame doctors for not looking after their patients as well as they should have. For example, basing it on a personal experience, when I was younger I underwent surgery and was prescribed oxycodone. However, I was told to take quite a few pills a day so that It would relieve me from pain, but I was only in 7th grade when this happened. My parents were not happy with the fact of me taking that many pills of oxycodone so instead they gave me half a pill for the first two days and after that I was completely fine and felt no pain. Relating this experience back to the blog post, I believe that many youngsters get addicted to these type of drugs easily because they are prescribed to take more than necessary for a longer amount of time than needed leading to addiction.

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