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What Is the Opioid Epidemic?

a question mark symbol to indicate the questions involved with the opioid epidemic

The term “opioid epidemic” is often heard in the news. However, not everyone clearly understands what this term means or why it matters. Taking the time to ask, “What is the opioid epidemic?” can help you understand the importance of seeking opioid addiction treatment before it’s too late.

Vertava Health of Mississippi Outpatient understands that effective opioid addiction treatment saves lives. We offer flexible outpatient addiction treatment services for overcoming opioid addiction. Call us today at 888.498.2376 to learn more about overcoming opioid use at Vertava Health of Mississippi Outpatient.

Understanding Opioids

Opioids are a category of drug. They can be plant-based or created synthetically. Opioids are typically used in medical settings to support pain relief by binding to natural opioid receptors in the brain, creating feelings of relaxation and euphoria.

Some of the most commonly used opioids include:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)

Unfortunately, all opioids come with a high potential for misuse. It’s easy to quickly develop both a physical and psychological dependence on opioids. Overcoming a dependence on opioids can be very difficult and requires the support of a substance use disorder treatment center.

What Is the Opioid Epidemic?

The opioid epidemic is a term used to refer to growing numbers of people who have become addicted to opioids in recent years. Because opioids bring a substantial risk of overdose and death, the opioid epidemic often refers specifically to the high death toll related to this drug category.

Over the past few decades, the opioid use rate and overdose rate have both skyrocketed. In recent years, synthetic opioid fentanyl has become increasingly widespread. Fentanyl is much stronger than other opioids. It’s estimated to be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Fentanyl doesn’t have a taste or smell, which makes it very difficult to gauge the strength of a dose. It’s also commonly mixed into other opioids and other kinds of drugs to increase their potency.

The widespread availability of fentanyl in recent years has directly impacted the fatal opioid overdose rate, which means the opioid epidemic isn’t going away anytime soon.

Concerning Opioid Epidemic Statistics

Looking at opioid epidemic statistics shows just how devastating the impact of opioid use can be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors data related to opioid overdose and death.

Recent data from the CDC shows:

  • 150 people die every day from fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids1
  • Overdose deaths have increased significantly since 20132
  • In 2020, opioids caused nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths3
  • Opioids were responsible for over 68,000 deaths in 2020
  • Between 1999-2000, over 564,000 people died from opioid overdose

The CDC’s most recent data shows that overdose deaths, particularly those related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, have steadily worsened since 2013.

The best way to protect against premature death due to opioid use is to get help right away. Addiction treatment centers offer a wide range of therapies and medications that make it possible to overcome opioid use for good.

Overcome Opioid Use Disorder at Vertava Health of Mississippi Outpatient

It’s impossible to overstate how dangerous opioid use is. If you or a loved one misuses opioids, every dose could be your last.

At Vertava Health of Mississippi Outpatient, we understand that the opioid epidemic is an avoidable tragedy. We work to ensure every client has access to life-saving resources that can help them overcome opioid addiction for good.

Contact us today at 888.498.2376 for more information on overcoming opioid use disorder at Vertava Health of Mississippi Outpatient.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Fentanyl Facts
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Understanding the Opioid Overdose Epidemic
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Drug Overdose Deaths