Opioid Crisis Outlook: Analyzing the Problem Through Opioid Epidemic Statistics
If you watch, listen, or keep up with the news in any capacity, you have probably heard the phrase “opioid crisis” or “opioid epidemic” at some point. For the unaware, the opioid crisis is a term used in reference to a shocking growth in opioid abuse, addiction, and deaths in America. While the opioid crisis is a problem felt most intensely in the northern region of the United States, it’s resonating influence can be felt in every corner of this country.
Opioid Epidemic Statistics
Why there are various contributing factors to the cause of the opioid crisis, there are a few solid ideas as to why the use of opioid substances has risen so substantially over the last two decades. You may be familiar with these theories and, for the most part, they both offer rational explanations for why this class of drug has skyrocketed in popularity.
The first theory is related to pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who prescribe their medications. Starting in the early 1990’s, a number of larger pharmaceutical companies began introducing prescription opiates to American patients as a catch-all solution for pain, be it temporary, serious, or chronic. As the number of prescriptions written for opioid medications increased, a number of American’s began developing substance abuse disorders due to the high risk of dependency that comes inherent with the drug. While this is certainly a rational argument, especially with issues like the Florida pill mills still fresh in our minds, it’s also important to note that countries like Canada and Europe prescribe even stronger painkillers to their patients for similar issues, and they do not have nearly the same addiction numbers as Americans do.
This brings us to the second theory, the distressed country theory. This theory alleges that the opioid crisis stems from a larger systemic issue in America, a mental health or morale issue. Proponents of this theory claim that opiate abuse is rapidly increasing because the American people feel more distressed and disconnected than ever before, leading many to turn to substance abuse as a method of coping with their psychological pain. While this theory is much harder to prove scientifically in any form, it would work to explain why the opioid epidemic statistics are not even across all the states in America.
Whichever origin story you choose to believe, or if you feel both contribute equally to the situation, the opioid crisis statistics make it very apparent that there is a massive problem sweeping the nation, and it can no longer go ignored.
Opioid Crisis Statistics
When you start taking a look at the opioid epidemic statistics from the past few years, you start to see an unfortunately overwhelming trend. In the 2016 ASAM report, out of the 20.5 million Americans over the age of 12, 2 million of them had some form of opioid dependence issue. That’s just shy of one out of every ten people!
If we want to look at how the problem has developed over recent years, we only need to look back at the less recent opioid epidemic statistics. Since 1999, the amount of deaths caused by opioid overdose and the amount of admissions to treatment centers for opioid addiction has more than quadrupled. In fact, death due to opioid overdose became the most common accidental cause of death, beating out car accidents with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
What Are We Doing to Stop the Opioid Crisis?
While it may seem at times like nothing is being done to help assist American’s suffering with opioid addiction, there are actually a lot of intense efforts being put forth to help curb America’s opioid epidemic. In fact, on the federal level alone initiatives have been started to bring educational resources about opioid abuse to schools and community settings, to sustain use of prescription drug monitoring programs, to implement overdose education into hospitals and the general public, to encourage police efforts to address pill mills, to divert individuals with substance abuse to drug court programs, and abuse-deterrent formulations for opioid analgesics.
While we are still unsure if any of the following programs will have lasting effects on the opioid crisis as a whole, we can be sure that it, at the very least, educates the public about a very real, very serious threat to the American people. On a local level, we look to our own communities and drug treatment facilities to combat addiction and promote education.
If you would like more information on opiate addiction and treatment, do not hesitate to call us today.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.