In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency and subsequently announced a five-point strategy to combat what we now refer to as "the opioid epidemic."
Opioids are a class of drugs used to treat pain. Common types are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone.
According to HHS data for 2019, more than 10 million people misused prescribed opioids, and 1.6 million had an opioid medication use disorder. Additionally, 1.6 million people misused prescription pain relievers for the first time, and 70,630 deaths were linked to drug overdoses.
Death, however, is not the only symptom of opioid abuse. In patients with noncancer pain, for example,