Opioids are psychoactive substances derived from the opium poppy, or their synthetic analogues. Examples are morphine and heroin.
About 275 million people worldwide (5.6 per cent of the global population aged 15–64 years) used drugs at least once during 2016. Among them, there were about 34 million people who used opioids and about 19 million who used opiates.
There were an estimated 27 million people who suffered from opioid use disorders in 2016. The majority of people dependent on opioids used illicitly cultivated and manufactured heroin, but an increasing proportion used prescription opioids.
Roughly 450,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2015. Of those deaths, about 160 thousands were directly associated with drug use disorders and about 118 thousands with opioid use disorders.
Overdose deaths contribute to between roughly a third and a half of all drug-related deaths, which are attributable in most cases to opioids. Lifetime prevalence of witnessed overdose among drug users is about 70%.
There are effective treatments for opioid dependence yet less than 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.