America by Numbers: opioid addiction has skyrocketed in the U.S.

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Opioid addiction is a growing problem across the globe. Opioids include heroin, morphine, and many prescription pain relievers like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

It's estimated that as many as 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide.

Here in the U.S. nearly 500,000 are addicted to heroin.

But the bigger issue is prescription painkillers. 2.1 million Americans get their fix from a prescribed opioid. It's easier than ever to get opioids prescribed by a doctor.

In 1991 around 76 million prescriptions were written for opioid painkillers. By 2013, it nearly tripled to 207 million.

This abundance of pills has deadly consequences. Deaths by unintentional opioid overdose have quadrupled since 1999.


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