Conceptualization of the Epidemiology of Opioid Use in the United States

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The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. The epidemic has necessitated a shift in the conceptualization of the harm caused by opioids. Harm could be caused through different categories of harm: exposure, misuse, addiction, and overdose. This article proposes the use of a pyramid diagram in which the volume of individuals in a category decreases as movement goes up the pyramid, with most individuals in the exposure category and the least in overdoses. The article reviews definitions for each category. Further, the article summarizes current volume for each category. As volume changes, it is important for stakeholders to be aware of the different databases and the sources they use to create them.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalOklahoma State Medical Proceedings
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2020


  • opioid
  • epidemic
  • overdose
  • misuse
  • epidemiology


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