Washington State is taking action to end our opioid crisis. Every day, an average of two Washington residents die from an opioid-related overdose. These deaths are one of the tragic aspects of this complex public health problem. In addition to overdose deaths, there are thousands of non-fatal overdoses, tens of thousands of people struggling with opioid use disorder, and hundreds of thousands of people misusing prescription opioids.

People with opioid use disorder are not nameless strangers. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, relatives, colleagues and friends. Anyone can develop dependence on opioids.  

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.

All opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and deaths.

Washington State Opioid Plan

BFHD Opioid Fact Sheet