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907 people died from drug overdoses in Philadelphia in 2016, an increase of nearly 30% from 2015. Medical Examiner’s Office, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

80% of these deaths involved an opioid, including prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl. Medical Examiner’s Office, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

In 2015, over 33,000 people died from a drug overdose involving an opioid. Nearly half of these involved a prescription opioid painkiller. Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths – United States, 2010-2015. MMWR. 2016 Dec 30;65(50-51):1445-1452.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. 2016. Available at:

Over 15% of adults in the United States have used prescription opioid painkillers when not prescribed to them. Barry CL, Kennedy-Hendricks A, Gollust SE et al. Understanding Americans’ views on opioid pain reliever abuse. Addiction. 2016 Jan;111(1):85-93.

In 2014, nearly 2 million adults in the United States were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50

Up to 1 in 4 adults in primary care who take opioids long-term for non-cancer pain meets criteria for opioid addiction. 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.

People can begin to show signs of withdrawal from opioids after taking them daily for as little as a week. Galinkin J and Koh JL for the Committee on Drugs, Section On Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics. Recognition and management of iatrogenically induced opioid dependence and withdrawal in children. Pediatrics. 2014 Jan;133(1):152-5.

People who have never taken opioids can suffer a fatal overdose from just a few pills. Purdue Pharma L.P. Stamford, CT 06901-3431 September 8, 2009. OXYCONTIN - oxycodone hydrochloride tablet, film coated, extended release. Available at

Four out of five new heroin users started by using prescription opioid painkillers. Muhuri PK, Gfroerer JC, M. Davies MC. Associations of Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use and Initiation of Heroin Use in the United States, August 2013. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality Data Review. Available at:

Sales of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled in the United States between 1999 and 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers — United States, 1999—2008. Available at:

In 2012 alone, 259 million prescriptions were written for in the United States, enough for every adult to have a bottle. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Opioid Painkiller Prescribing, July 2014. Available at:

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