How the epidemic startedMORE
The Opioid epidemic began in earnest in the 1990s when pharmaceutical corporations roundly assured the medical community of the safety of prescription Opioids as pain relievers. This was known as the "first wave".
The second wave of the Opioid epidemic started in 2010 with a concurrent rise in Heroin deaths as prescription painkiller deaths continued to climb. That year, 16,651 people died from drug-induced overdose; Heroin was involved in 3,036 deaths.
The third wave of the Opioid epidemic started only three years later with deaths involving highly potent synthetic Opioids (like Fentanyl and Carfentanil). In 2016, nearly a third of all drug overdose deaths and half of all Opioid deaths involved a synthetic Opioid, up 100% from the previous year.