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The opioid crisis in the United States (US) is one of the most high-profile public health scandals of the 21st century with millions of people unknowingly becoming dependent on opioids. The United Kingdom (UK) had the world’s highest rate of opioid consumption in 2019, and opiate-related drug poisoning deaths have increased by 388% since 1993 in England and Wales. This article explores the epidemiological definitions of public health emergencies and epidemics in the context of opioid use, misuse, and mortality in England, to establish whether England is facing an opioid crisis.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Pain


SAGE Publications

Publication Date



204946372311606 - 204946372311606