There are powerful painkillers that are legal if prescribed by a doctor, but there are also drugs like heroin that are not legal. Heroin and morphine come from opium, along with painkillers like Percocet, Oxycodone, and Vicodin. There are also opioids that are completely or partially synthetic like fentanyl and methadone. Fentanyl is a drug 100 times more powerful than morphine which can be used as a narcotic. MoneyWeek reports that about 97 million Americans take opioids, and 12 million get them illegally. The same source states that no less than 2.6 million Americans are addicted to them, while deaths related to fentanyl and heroin are growing.

In Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts we can see that fentanyl is responsible for many deaths. Donald Trump has declared this a national emergency.

Deaths related to overdoses are a big number

Roughly 60,000 Americans perished as a result of overdoses last year -- according to MoneyWeek -- and about half of those deaths were due to medical prescriptions. This is more than the number of people killed by guns and car accidents in the same year. For Americans under 50, the opioid crisis has become the leading cause of death.

The life expectancy declined

The drug crisis is so severe in America that it made the Life Expectancy decline in 2015 according to MoneyWeek, which is a negative for the US labor market because many men decide not to work, and they are mainly men between 25 and 54 years old.

As we can see, opioids affect the health of the nation, and this can have devastating consequences.

Roots of the crisis

Many specialists believe that the crisis is related to unemployment, stagnating wages, and other economic problems. This could be a possible cause, but not the main one. The most important factor is that the pharmaceutical industry markets the painkillers heavily. A report by the presidential commission states that the problem doesn't begin on the streets, it begins in the healthcare system of the United States. Besides, the price of heroin has fallen a lot, and fentanyl has become more accessible -- all of which has made the situation worse.

A public health crisis

This drugs problem is seen as a national emergency by Donald Trump. The Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, wants the US President to treat this problem as a Public Health Crisis, not as a war on drugs. There must be great changes; thus, medical substitutes will have to be used to treat addicts.