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opioid epidemic in the US

Leonie Stolzenbach

- opioid epidemic definition

- types of opioids

- development of the opioid epidemic

- consequences of the epidemic

- countermeasures taken by the government

table of contents

opioid epidemic definition

- the opioid crisis or epidemic refers to the sharp increase in the number of drug addicts and deaths related to the abuse of opioid pain products in the United States

- most users became addicted to previously prescribed painkillers

- one of the main drugs used to treat severe pain

- mostly used in combination with paracetamol and as a cough suppressant

- induces simultaneously relaxing and euphoric feelings and eliminates unpleasant sensations such as fear, listlessness and feelings of emptiness

- synthetic opioid used as a pain reliever in anesthesia and to treat acute and chronic pain

types of opioids





- opioid drugs bind the areas of the brain that control pain and emotions, causing the users to feel euphoric

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid painkillers

Doctors began prescribing them more often

This eventually led to opioid abuse before it was realized that these drugs can be highly addictive

increase in drug overdose deaths beginning in the 2000s

triggers of the opioid epidemic

- increase in drug overdose deaths beginning in the 2000s

- with about 5,000 deaths in 2000, numbers for male victims are significantly higher than female victims, who make up about 1,000 deaths from opioid abuse

- while there were about 4,000 to 5,000 in 1999, the number of deaths rose to almost 16,000 by 2010

- overdoses of opiates in the period from 2010 to 2015 tripled itself

- in year 2016, approximately 42,000 people died from opioides

- as already said, the numbers of male victims are significantly higher

- the peak was reached in 2019, where almost 50,000 people died from an opioid overdose

triggers of the opioid epidemic


reasons for the increase in deaths from opioid overdose

- Bradley Stein, a psychiatrist and addiction expert says, that people with drug and and alcohol problems can be easily stigmatized

- they would seek less help, and their addiction would be ignored by they friends and family




- a big problem are the costs that come with an addiction therapy

- often only well-insured and wealthy people can afford a rehabilitation

- that leads to sufferers not seeking any help, because they can not afford it

- drug addiction mainly affects the middle class in America

- it’s not limited to social hotspots in larger cities like previously

- many impure and dangerous drugs get smuggled into the US from Mexico like weed, fentanyl, heroin and other opioid and synthetic drugs

- one of many consequences of the opioid epidemic include increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses

- the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy are also a big problem

- there are also a multitude of consequences for those affected

- due to the abuse of opioids and painkillers, they need higher and higher doses to have an effect

- this makes patients more difficult to treat for injuries that cause pain as they develop resistance to the painkillers over time

consequences of the epidemic

- high-pitched cry

- hyperirritability
- seizures
- sleep deprivation
- sleep fragmentation
- excessive suck
- poor or excessive feeding
- yawning

tachycardia -
tachypnoea -
sweating -

- diarrhoea

- excessive weight loss
- vomiting
- hyperthermia
- high blood pressure
- tremors

countermeasures taken by the government

- the listed countermeasures are,

a good way to counteract the opioid epidemic

- however, I think that one should first concentrate on the treatment of those affected and, based on this, ensure prevention and education in society in order to reduce both the number of overdoses and the number of drug addicts

improving access to treatment and recovery services

promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs

strengthening understanding through better public health surveillance

advancing better practices for pain management

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

safe, effective, non-addictive strategies to manage chronic pain

new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid use disorders

improved overdose prevention and reversal intervention to save lives and support recoveryction

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

my opinion

providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction

Thank you for listening to my presentation!

sources : wikipedia.org ; edition.ccn.com