HHS Fact sheet: The Opioid Epidemic: By the Numbers

Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid.1 Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids—including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin—nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription pain medication deaths remain far too high, and in 2014, the most recent year on record, there was a sharp increase in heroin-involved deaths and an increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Prevention, treatment, research, and effective responses to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses are critical to fighting the epidemic—a top priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In March 2015, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced an initiative targeting three priority areas to tackle the opioid epidemic and help save lives. These include: improving prescribing practices, expanding access to and the use of medication- assisted treatment, and expanding the use of naloxone.
http://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/Factsheet-opioids-061516.pdf