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Heroin and Opioid Awareness

Heroin and Opioid Awareness

Opioid and prescription drug abuse have become America's fastest-growing drug problem and have devastated communities across America. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include Methadone, OxyContin, and Vicodin.

Misuse and abuse of these drugs, unfortunately, have increased. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. In 2014, nearly 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and opioids are the most common drug used in cases of drug overdose. Since the start of the 21st century, our Nation has lost nearly the same number of lives to the opioid crisis as we lost in World War II.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is working closely with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners; the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Groups; and various task forces, including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), to combat this epidemic. Because it is a multi-faceted epidemic, we are working with communities, educators, and service providers to promote awareness of the dangers of opioids and prescription drugs, to share information, and to coordinate training.


  • In 2017, more than 70,237 people died in the U.S. from a drug overdose47,600 of those deaths were the result of opioids.
  • In 2017, there were 412 overdose deaths involving opioids in Nevada.
  • In 2017, a total of more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were prescribed.
  • From 1999-2017, almost 400,000 died from an overdose involving any opioid – more than the population of Nevada’s Biggest Little City in the World.
  • Veterans are twice as likely as the general population to die from an opioid overdose, according to a study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health. 


What is an Opioid?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others. Common street names include "Oxy," "Vikes," and "Percs."















Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Other common names for heroin include big Hhorsehell dust, and smack

  • 80% of heroin users reported misusing prescription pills before they started heroin.



As a result of the past 18 Take Back Days nationwide, the DEA and its partners have collected and removed a total of nearly 12.7 million pounds of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription medications. The next Take Back Day is Saturday, April 25, 2020. For additional information about National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit

Recent Nevada results:

18th Take Back Day on October 26, 2019

• Law Enforcement Participation: 18

• Collection Sites: 41

• Weight Collected: 6,058 lbs.

17th Take Back Day on April 27, 2019

• Law Enforcement Participation: 18

• Collection Sites: 38

• Weight Collected: 6,323 lbs.


Chasing the Dragon: the life of an opiate addict
 The Life of an Opiate Addict
Updated January 17, 2020

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