New Data Emerges as the Opioid Epidemic Continues

The Path to Opioid Abuse Often Starts With a Legitimate Prescription

The Recovery Village recently surveyed more than two thousand current and former opioid users, including those who use prescription opioids like oxycodone and illicit opioids like heroin.

While widely available vaccinations mark a positive shift in the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic continues to affect the lives of millions of Americans.

  • 1 in 3 respondents started with a legitimate need for a prescription opioid and eventually transitioned into misusing other prescription opioids or going to illicit opioids like heroin.
  • Nearly half (48%) had been to the hospital for a medical emergency directly related to their opioid use (usually an overdose).
  • Four out of five participants reported relapsing after they started their recovery (80%), with 42% doing so within the first year.

The opioid crisis is often painted as individuals making bad decisions and over-using their prescriptions, but that just isn’t the case for many. More than half (57%) of those surveyed were introduced to opioids through their doctor or other healthcare professional as part of an official prescription they used as directed.

Opioid use, misuse, dependence and addiction can impact every facet of a person’s life. While opioids may offer pain relief, relaxation or an enjoyable high, many of our respondents reported negative impacts that may have outweighed these benefits. Among those surveyed:

  • 50% reported impacts to their mental health
  • 46% reported impacts to their physical health
  • 46% reported opioids affected their relationships with their loved ones
  • 45% reported their finances were impacted
  • 37% reported impacts to their career/job
  • 37% reported impacts to their appearance/hygiene
  • 35% said opioids impacted their parental abilities
  • 16% had a legal issue (arrest, incarceration or a fine)

This study shows thousands of people across the country started with a legitimate prescription for an opioid but became dependent or addicted, experiencing dangerous overdoses and negative impacts on their health and quality of life. Most survey participants choose to end their opioid use through rehab treatment, and a majority have been to rehab multiple times throughout their recovery.

The Recovery Village regularly conducts behavioral health research to shed light on the enduring effects of substance abuse on a person’s health, relationships and quality of life. Surveys conducted by The Recovery Village use an organic, random sample of U.S. Americans collected through Pollfish’s random device engagement (RDE) sampling method. All surveys are double-blind studies with a 95% confidence interval and ±3% margin of error.