America’s Sea of Prescription Opioids
The U.S. consumes a much greater share of prescription painkillers than its global population share would suggest.
1. Every day, 50,000 opioid doses are prescribed for every one million Americans.
2. Overall, Americans consume 30% of the global prescription opioid supply. That is 6.8 times the U.S. share of the global population.
3. Opioid addiction in the United States often stems initially from improperly prescribed or managed pharmaceutical pain relief.
4. Overall, 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. The United States thus accounts for a 27% share of global overdoses.
5. 64,000 overdose deaths is more than each of the peak U.S. deaths from guns, automobile crashes or HIV in each year of their highest fatalities.
6. 14,400 of those deaths are due to prescription opioids – almost as many as the 15,400 people that died from heroin.
7. A further 20,100 died from the opioid fentanyl or analogues – a cheap synthetic intended for pain relief but lethal in all but the tiniest concentrations.
8. Most U.S. heroin comes from Mexico. If it is laced with fentanyl, that is also produced in Mexico with Chinese ingredients – or made in China itself.
9. Drug cartels and dealers combine fentanyl into less potent and more expensive opioids like heroin to lower costs and boost profits.
10. If fentanyl is mixed into heroin even slightly wrong it leads to a potentially fatal overdose.
Sources: International Narcotics Control Board, UNODC, Stratfor, Vox, Politifact, The Globalist Research Center