More than 61,300 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in 2017, up from the previous years record of 54,800. (See the graphic.) Thats more than the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. And its happening every year.
Opioids are directly or indirectly responsible for about 70 percent of those overdose deaths.
Credit: Goodman and Wedekind using data from CDC
Why Are Opioids So Harmful?
Anyone who takes an opioid, legal or illegal, is at risk of becoming addicted. Why? Opioids work on your brain in a manner that is different from all other addictive substances. Opioids target your brains neurotransmitters and become substitute endorphins that mimic your bodys natural endorphins like dopamine and serotonin. Over time, your brain slows the natural production of endorphins. At this point, addicts feel they must take drugs in order to experience normal feelings of happiness, pleasure, fun, or normal day-to-day emotions.