- Opioids are psychoactive substances derived from the opium poppy, or their synthetic analogues. Examples are morphine and heroin.
- Worldwide, an estimated 69 000 people die from opioid overdose each year.
- There are an estimated 15 million people who suffer from opioid dependence (i.e. an addiction to opioids). The majority of people dependent on opioids use illicitly cultivated and manufactured heroin, but an increasing proportion use prescription opioids.
- There are effective treatments for opioid dependence yet only 10% of people who need such treatment are receiving it.
- Due to their pharmacological effects, opioids in high doses can cause respiratory depression and death.
- The inexpensive medication naloxone can completely reverse the effects of opioid overdose and prevent deaths due to opioid overdose.
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