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“We have to stop treating addiction as a moral failing, and start seeing it for what it is: a chronic disease that must be treated with urgency and compassion.” – Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, United States Surgeon General

Extent of the issue

The impact of the opioid crisis cuts across racial/ethnic groups, age, sex, geography, and socioeconomic status.  Forty-four percent of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers.[i]  Here are some facts about the opioid crisis:

  • 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.[ii]
  • In 2014, more than 10 million people in the United States reported using prescription opioids for nonmedical reasons, and close to 2 million people older than 12 years met diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder involving prescription opioids.[iii] 
  • There has been quadrupling of prescriptions for opioids since 1999,[iv] but there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.[v],[vi] 
  • As many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with addiction.[vii] 

The Surgeon General’s #TurnTheTide Campaign

The Surgeon General has launched an opioids campaign to raise awareness about opioid addiction and to help concerned Americans identify roles they can play in their community by:

  • Sending a letter to 2.3M health care providers, including doctors, dentists and nurses, encouraging members of the profession to be leaders in combating this epidemic but still treating their patient’s pain appropriately.
  • Visiting America’s hardest hit communities as part of the Surgeon General’s TurnTheTide nationwide tour, listening to the stories of those affected, and talking to community leaders about what practices have been most effective and what challenges remain.
  • Engaging stakeholders, including health care providers, policy makers, educators, law enforcement officers, and the larger community how America thinks about substance use disorders and addiction.

You can help turn the tide of the opioid crisis! To learn more, and to get involved, please join us at!

What you can do

All of us have a role to play in preventing opioid addiction. Here’s what you can do:


[i] Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll April, 2016

[ii] CDC Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Overdose

[iii] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2014

[iv] Rudd RA, Aleshire N, Zibbell JE, Gladden RM. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths--United States, 2000-2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Jan 1;64(50-51):1378-82.

[v] Chang H, Daubresse M, Kruszewski S, et al. Prevalence and treatment of pain in emergency departments in the United States, 2000 – 2010. Amer J of Emergency Med 2014; 32(5): 421-31.

[vi] Daubresse M, Chang H, Yu Y, Viswanathan S, et al. Ambulatory diagnosis and treatment of nonmalignant pain in the United States, 2000 – 2010.  Medical Care 2013; 51(10): 870-878.

[vii] Boscarino JA, Rukstalis M, Hoffman SN, et al. Risk factors for drug dependence among out-patients on opioid therapy in a large US health-care system. Addiction 2010;105:1776–82.