In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the growing opioid crisis a public health emergency. That year, there were 47,600 deaths from opioids nationwide. According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2017, the age-adjusted opioid overdose fatality rate grew from 2.9 to 14.9 per 100,000 people, an increase of more than 5X.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include opium, heroin, methadone, synthetic narcotics, and natural and semisynthetic opioids used in pain medication. Research from the CDC shows that synthetic narcotics are even more likely than heroin to lead to overdose and death.