Worldview Wednesday: The Opioid Epidemic

Worldview Wednesday: The Opioid Epidemic

Worldview Wednesday looks at the opioid epidemic around the globe!



The use of opioids is a problem that touches every continent.  The darker the color purple, the bigger the opioid problem.

* The areas where opioid addiction is the biggest concern are North America, Eastern/South Eastern Europe and Asia (the locations in the dark purple are the largest areas of concern).


* The U.N. issued a report saying that heroin addiction needs to be addressed by the entire international committee.


*The United States is the largest user of non-medical prescription drugs.


* In Eastern and South Eastern Europe, 3 out of 4 people in treatment for drug addiction are there due to opioids.

(Source 1 and 2)


The U.S. and Asia have a significantly higher number of people seeking treatment for addiction to opioids than any other continent.

(Note: Numbers are rounded up.  Australia and surrounding areas were not included in this report to add to the graph)

Opioids are everywhere – treatment drugs are not.  Areas highlighted in blues have treatment drugs available.  The areas in yellow do not.


* Some of the countries with the biggest concentrations of opioid use do not have any substitution therapies (use of methadone or buprenorphine to help with addiction), such as Russia and Iran.


* However, Australia, the United States, and many European countries offer methadone and/or buprenorphine treatments or safe injection sights to keep people as safe as possible.  Those countries are also evaluating ways to get users clean, but offer those options as well.

(Source: 2 and 3)


The U.S., Australia, and Western Europe (the areas highlighted in red) have the highest availability of prescription opioids.  The U.S is the #1 consumer and abuser of pain killers.


* In the U.S., “doctor-shopping” is the most common way that people get access to opioids.
* However, in Europe, it is more common for people to get prescription drugs from family, friends, or from internet pharmacies.  Also in Europe, they have universal health-care systems which tend to be to better with electronic record-keeping and stricter access to medications.  Doctors tend to prescribe opioids as a last resort. 
* Also, the majority of the rest of the world prescribes codeine for pain.  However the U.S. uses 99% of the world supply of OxyContin and Hydrocodone.

(Source 4, 5, 6 and 7)

Join Us Tomorrow to find out what you can do about the Opioid Epidemic on Take Action Thursday!


Looking to catch up?  Click the links below!


1: “Global Opioid Use.” Graphiq, United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, 2014, Accessed 27 June 2017. Map.

2: World Drug Report 2016. United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, May 2016, Accessed 27 June 2017. Sales No. E.16.XI.7.

3: Solis, Michele. “Heroin abuse: breaking the cycle.” The Pharmaceutical Journal, 25 June 2015, Accessed 27 June 2017.

4: “Availability of narcotic drugs for medical use.” International Narcotics Control Accessed 27 June 2017.

5: McPhillips, Deidre. “The Poison in the Medicine Cabinet.” U.S. News and World Report, 7 Apr. 2017, Accessed 27 June 2017.

6: Leonard, Kimberly. “Is the EU Facing the Next Opioid Epidemic?” U.S. News and World Report, 3 Aug. 2016, Accessed 27 June 2017.

7: Winstock, Adam. “Global Drug Survey 2015.” The Global Drug Survey, 2015, Accessed 27 June 2017.