For the past two decades, the USA has been in the throes of an opioid crisis marked by a rising number of deaths; in 2016, opioids were responsible for most of the nation’s estimated 64 000 fatal drug overdoses.1 The problem began with overprescribing of opioid analgesics in the 1990s, which exposed pain patients to the risks of addiction and produced large surpluses of pain pills that were diverted for misuse by the larger community. Additionally, the escalating numbers of opioid-addicted Americans led to increased HIV and hepatitis C transmission among people who misuse these drugs by injecting them2 and increased numbers of infants born dependent on opioids as a result of the mother’s opioid use (neonatal abstinence syndrome).
Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, commented on this study. View commentary ›.
View Opioid treatment drugs have similar outcomes once patients initiate treatment article about the study.