The Opioid Epidemic in America

The past 50 years have seen a growing epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse emerge in the United States; in 2015 alone, opioid medications, both legal and illegal, caused over 30,000 fatalities, triple the number of overdoses reported the entire 15 years prior.1

Both opioids and the current epidemic have long been a focus of scientic research; with Scopus® data from 2011-2016, we used SciVal to analyze scholarly output, research impact, trending topics, and top researchers on both topics.

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Research Referencing Opioids (1950-2015)

Worldwide, research referencing opioids in any context increased by a factor of 54 between 1950 and 20152

Top Journals

Based on number of publications referencing opioids.

Opioid Misuse & Addiction in the United States3

Data from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates:

Research Referencing Opioid Addiction (1950-2016)4

Scholarly output focused on opioid addiction represents a fraction of all research referencing opioids, with a particularly noticeable spike between 1969 and 1974:

The most prolific institutions focused on opioid addiction, use disorder, misuse & overdoses over the last 65 years are largely from the United States:

Research focused on treatment and prevention of opioid addiction show frequently occurring keyphrases include: pain management, opioid antagonists (such as naloxone), prescription drug misuse, and opioid substitution treatment.

SciVal’s word cloud previews the growing (orange) and declining (blue) keywords and phrases found in this research area.

All data taken from SciVal or Scopus on May 31, 2017. Scopus® data from January 1, 1950 to December 31, 2016 and includes all publication types (articles, papers, surveys, reviews, editorials, etc.) where search terms were mentioned in the title, abstract, or keywords.

  1. Rudd, R. A., Seth, P., David, F., & Scholl, L. (2016). Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65 (5051), 1445-1452. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm655051e1
  2. Search performed in Scopus using the following terms: “opioid, opiate, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, propoxyphene, hydromorphone, meperidine, pethidine, diphenoxylate, methadone, morphine, or codeine“
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Opioid Crisis. Retrieved May, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-crisis
  4. Search performed in Scopus using the following terms: “opioid, opiate, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, propoxyphene, hydromorphone, meperidine, pethidine, diphenoxylate, methadone, morphine, codeine, or heroin”, AND "addiction, 'use disorder,' misuse, or overdose"