In the late 1990s in the United States, there was a prompt growth in the usage of non-prescribed and prescribed opioid drugs. This was considered as the opioid crises or opioid epidemic. Throughout the 1st 2 decades of the 2000s, this crisis continued in the country. Basically, opioids are types of drugs and robust painkillers such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine. In the U.S., more than thousands of individuals are being catered every day in hospitals due to the wrong usage of opioids. Despite their high risk of overdose and addiction, the availability and potency of these painkillers have made them popular as recreational drugs and medicines used for formal treatments. However, death at times and respiratory failure leading to respiratory depression may result due to its tranquilizing effects of these painkillers.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States, epidemic levels have been reached by deaths resulted due to the overdose of these prescribed painkillers. One of the leading cause of death in the U.S. is due to overdoses of drugs out of which 2/3rd are due to abuse of opioids. It has appeared as a severe national crisis affecting the economic and social welfare along with public health. It has been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that the entire economic burden of misusage of prescribed opioid has reached to 78.5 billion dollars annually, involving the criminal justice involvement, addiction treatment, lost productivity and the healthcare costs.

In the late 1990s, the medical community was reassured by the pharmaceutical organizations that no such addiction in patients will take place related to these prescribed opioid pain killers. This eventually leads to prescription at increased rates by the healthcare providers and misusage and widespread diversion of these painkillers took place. The rates of its overdose substantially increased. From the year 1999 to 2008, there was a substantial increase in the treatment involving substance abuse, sales and high rates of death led by overdose due to these opioid pain killers.

By 2015, deaths resulted due to guns and car accidents were surpassed by the annual deaths led by overdose and abuse of heroin (a type of opioid). As a result of the overdose of opioids, involving fentanyl which is manufactured illegally, heroin and other prescribed painkillers, around thirty-three thousand Americans died in 2015. In the same year, around two million people within the country suffered from disorders related to these prescribed painkillers.

Later in 2016, around half of the deaths reported were due to the overdose of these prescribed painkillers. For the 2nd consecutive year, there was a substantial decrease in the overall life expectancy of the citizens of the U.S. due to the opioid epidemic. In comparison to 2015, there was an increase of twenty-one percent in deaths resulted from the overdose in 2016. However, in 1999 the figure was quite less, i.e., four thousand and in 2010 it was sixteen thousand. However, it was estimated by the public health experts that over the next ten years, the opioid epidemic can lead to deaths of people over five-hundred thousand.

In total the opioid epidemic represents the increase in its usage in sixteen larger cities by fifty-four percent. From July 2016 to September 2017, there was an increase of seventy percent in overdoses of opioids in the Midwestern region. In forty-five states and in fifty-two areas, there was an increase of thirty percent from July 2016 to September 2017. Heroin was adopted by around four to six percent of individuals who were making misuse of prescribed opioids.  An opioid usage disorder was developed by around eight to twelve percent of people. Around twenty-one to twenty-nine percent of individuals starting misusing these opioids that were prescribed to them for lessening their chronic pain.