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Dependence on prescription opioids can happen after just five days.

In 2016, an estimated 5.8 million young adults were prescribed opioids. For many people, prescription opioids are necessary to treat pain. But opioids are addictive and wildly misused. And there are a lot of people with stories just like Chris’s.

Chris tried Vicodin -- a prescription painkiller and an opioid -- after finding a bottle in his mom’s medicine cabinet when he was in his teens. Later, when he was working as a plumbing apprentice, he was hurt on the job and given a prescription for opioids. When he finished his prescription, the withdrawal was overpowering. Chris knew the only way to get more pills was with a prescription, so he waited until he was alone at work, and then deliberately smashed his arm and hand in a door.

Because opioid dependence can happen after just five days, many users might not know what they’re bargaining for with a pill they find in a medicine cabinet, or that they’ve been given by a doctor. And while Chris’s story didn’t end in fatal overdose, thousands of Americans don’t share the same fate.

Every 12 minutes, someone in the US dies from an opioid overdose. That’s hundreds of people every week, across many different communities. The more we talk about the epidemic, the more we can encourage each other to ask the right questions, speak to our doctors, and fight for fewer lives taken by opioid overdose.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for an opioid addiction, visit our resource page to find out how you can reach out now.