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University of Southern Maine
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Topic: Opioid Epidemic

Maine, the US, and now the world are dealing with an opioid epidemic - prescription, legal, illegal, synthetic,...

Rainbow Fentanyl

Rainbow Fentanyl
Source: abc10 Sacramento

Naloxone (Narcan)

Narcan and naloxone spray and shot


How Naloxone Saves Lives

NPR Opiod Increase 2021

Did a New England Journal of Medicine letter set off the opioid epidemic?

A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 10, 1980 (below) may have been used to justify physicians prescribing certain drugs that today are considered highly addictive:

New England Journal of Medicine 1980 letter

June 2017 - NEJM Editor's Note: For reasons of public health, readers should be aware that this letter (above) has been “heavily and uncritically cited” as evidence that addiction is rare with opioid therapy Leung et al.describe its history. (below.)

Suggested Search Terms

Prescription or illegal:

  • opioid*
  • fentanyl
  • oxycodone
  • hydrocodone
  • carfentanil
  • heroin

Emergency treatment - reverses an overdose

  • naloxone (generic)
  • narcan (brand name)


  • methadone
  • suboxone
  • buprenorphine
  • treatment of drug addiction

How Addiction Affects the Brain (2.5 min.)

Opioid Addiction & Why It's Tough to Combat (8 min.)

Fentanyl Abuse Around the World

Investigation of Purdue Pharma; Source: Quartz, 2019

Source: Java Discover

Source: 60 Minutes Australia

Opioid Statistics


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