In recent years, the devastating effects of U.S. opioid epidemic has been making news headlines. This report explores background information and trends on opioid misuse, overdose fatalities and its impact on public health. In addition, various efforts to improve surveillance, timeliness of data and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) integration and interoperability are reviewed.
Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, poses an increasing public health threat. Low production costs encourage suppliers to “cut” heroin with the drug, particularly white powder heroin sold in the eastern United States.1 Fentanyl also appears as a prevalent active ingredient in counterfeit OxyContin (oxycodone) tablets. The result is that fentanyl plays a major role in rising mortality due to heroin or opioid overdose. It poses a serious overdose risk because it can rapidly suppress respiration and cause death more quickly than do other opioids.
Prescription drug misuse is second only to marijuana use as the nation's most common type of illicit drug use. As a result, understanding the prevalence of and reasons for prescription drug misuse has major public health implications. Policymakers can use this type of information to help inform their assessments of substance use prevention and treatment needs in their communities.
The present study examined the associations between early onset of non-medical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD) (i.e. sedatives, tranquilizers, opioids, stimulants) and the development of prescription drug abuse and dependence in the United States.
Prescription opioid misuse has not been well examined in the context of comorbid substance use in representative samples of substance users. Past 30‐day comorbid prescription opioid misuse and recreational substance use (eg, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, etc.) was studied in a representative sample of substance users in the United States using the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a postnatal drug withdrawal syndrome in newborns caused primarily by in utero exposure to opioids. In the United States, the incidence of NAS increased 383% during 2000–2012, and an estimated 80% of hospital charges for NAS are covered by state Medicaid programs.