Opioid abuse and overdose is a growing problem worldwide. In the US, from 1991 to 2015 the number of opioid-related deaths quadrupled. In 2011, there were more than 5 million drug-related emergency department visits in the US; about one half of these (2.5 million visits) were attributed to drug misuse or abuse. The sharp increase in prescription opioid overdoses since the late 1990s may be due in part to more aggressive pain management strategies.
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