The prescription opioid overdose crisis in America didn’t start until the late 1990s, when pharmaceutical companies touted prescription painkillers that weren’t supposed to be addictive. As a result, medical professionals more frequently prescribed opioid painkillers.
Since then, opioid-related deaths have seen a steady increase. From 2000 to 2014, nearly half a million Americans died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 50,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2015. Of those deaths, 33,000 were opioid-related.
The Council of Economic Advisers reports that the opioid crisis had an economic cost of $504 billion in 2015, and prescription opioid misuse increased healthcare and substance abuse treatment costs by $29.4 billion.