Opioid abuse has quickly become one of the United States’ primary drug problems, and it has been declared a national public health emergency. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who leads the commission on opioid abuse, told CNN that the widespread abuse is “the medical crisis of our time” and “the AIDS epidemic of our generation, but even worse.”
The range of opioids is important to understand. Heroin falls into that category, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and it has long had a reputation as one of the most dangerous illegal drugs on the street. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is not as widely known as heroin but is even more potent. And opioids including hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine may not be perceived as having a heroin-like level of danger because they can be prescribed for pain relief.