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Opioid Crisis Stats for 2019

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In 2019, an estimated 11.4 million people misused opioids and among these 2.1 million people were addicted. Around 10% of misuers were only misusing heroin while around 5% were misusing both heroin and legal opioids. Among the misuers, around half generally obtained legally prescribed opioids from friends or family members, while 36% had their own legal prescription for an opioid medication. Most reported their reason for misusing opioids was to treat pain.


Data for overdose deaths are not yet available for 2019, but in 2018, there were 64,046 opioid overdoses, the highest number ever recorded. Among deaths from drug overdoses, the majority were from synthetic opioids and the rest were evenly split between heroin and natural/semi-synthetic opioids.
In 2019:

  • 11.4 million people misused opioids
  • 2.1 million people addicted to opioids
  • 52% obtained opioids from others who had legal prescriptions for opioids
  • 36% obtained opioids from a legal prescription for opioids written to themselves
  • 64,046 opioid overdose deaths
  • 49% of the deaths were from synthetic opioids
  • 24% of the deaths were from heroin
  • 22% of the deaths were from natural/semi-synthetic opioids

The CDC estimated that the total economic burden of the opioid crisis cost the US economy $78.5 billion in 2019, including costs related to healthcare, addiction treatment, lost productivity, and costs to law enforcement.

Data for 2019 isn’t available, but in 2018 around 8.5% of pregnant women were misusing illegal drugs including opioids, and in 2016, an all-time high of almost 25,000 newborns were found to be suffering from opioid withdrawl.


In addition to street heroin, a new illicit opioid is on the rise: illicitly synthesized fentanyl. In 2019, record amounts of this illegal substance were smuggled into the country. In one record drug bust, 245 pounds of this substance were discovered hidden inside a truck transporting cucumbers.

The rise of street fentanyl is a scary thing since this synthetic opioid is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is far more potent than heroin. A lethal dose of heroin is 30 mg while it only takes around 3 mg of fentanyl to kill someone. Drug dealers often mix their products with fentanyl to make them more potent and the users do not know this. Thus, they may take their “usual” dose, which is safe for them, and the fentanyl content will turn the dose into a lethal dose.

In addition to adding fentanyl to heroin, dealers sometimes add it to cocaine. In 2018, 15,089 deaths due to cocaine were reported, and in 70% of these cases opioids were also detected in the victim’s body.