The Opioid Epidemic in the United States

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2016 May;34(2):e1-e23. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2015.11.002. Epub 2016 Feb 17.


There is an epidemic of opioid abuse. This article discusses the history of opioid use. Abusers of opioids are at great risk of harm. There have been increasing legislative efforts to curb this abuse and we present a review of the current state of these laws. Naloxone has made a profound impact in the care of these patients if they present for medical care early enough. This paper discusses naloxone pharmacodynamics, its use in the medical setting, and how its use is now being expanded to include nontraditional providers with take home naloxone programs.

Keywords: Heroin; Legal liability; Opioid epidemic; Opioids; Overdose; Prescription drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Prescription Drug Misuse*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid