The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls the current opioid addiction epidemic a “national crisis.”
Opioids are commonly prescribed to patients who need help recovering from pain, either in the wake of a surgery or to treat a medical condition.
However, these drugs are highly addictive and accessible, leaving many to build dependencies even after they’ve exhausted their prescriptions.
It can be difficult to understand the scope of this crisis without having some hard facts. In this article, we’ll discuss some statistics that shed light on this epidemic.
Read on for insight!
1. Over 115 people in the U.S. die each day from an opioid overdose.
This equates to nearly 42,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. This number is approximately equivalent to the number of annual deaths in the U.S. that occur due to suicide and intentional self-harm.
Opioids include heroin and synthetic drugs (such as fentanyl). They also include a variety of prescription drugs, including codeine, oxycodone, and morphine.
While some of these deaths occur due to addictions not sourced from prescription drugs, many are the result of addictions begun due to prescribed opioids.
2. Many heroin addictions begin with prescription opioid misuse or dependency.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 80 percent of people who start using heroin due so after misusing prescription opioids.
Heroin-related deaths increased by nearly five times between 2010 and 2016. Data suggests that these deaths are only likely to keep increasing, given the fact that over 800,000 people in the U.S. use heroin within any given year.
3. The opioid crisis costs about $78.5 billion every year.
The opioid epidemic is also a medical crisis. Many individuals suffering from opioid addiction seek medical treatment to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, recover from overdoses, and try to get sober.
Some addicts struggle to maintain their jobs and contribute economically to society. Others get caught in the criminal justice system for various addiction-related crimes.
For this reason, addictions and mental health issues of all kinds can have a profound economic (and not just a social) cost. Depression alone costs the U.S. $210 billion every year for similar reasons.
4. Opioid overdose rates are increasing.
The staggering amount of deaths that occur every day in the U.S. due to opioids is painful enough, but evidence suggests that these numbers aren’t likely to go down anytime soon.
In 2015, 33,000 Americans died as a result of opioid addiction and/or overdose. Currently, in 2018, approximately 42,000 people die every year as a result of prescription opioid dependency.
A lot of people don’t realize that these numbers are increasing, despite all the political talk about the crisis.
5. Prescription opioids have only recently been acknowledged as addictive.
When medical practitioners started using prescription opioids to treat patient pain in the early 1990s, they assured the public that these drugs were not addictive. For this reason, people didn’t start recognizing the widespread misuse of opioids until relatively recently.
This fact can be utterly shocking to many. It begs the question: what else are practitioners prescribing that are potentially hazardous to human health?
Doctors may still hesitate to prescribe opioids to certain patients, but they are still able to do so–even when those patients are known addicts. This puts many practitioners in a quandary, as opioids do provide profound chronic pain relief other medications simply do not provide.
6. 8-12 percent of people prescribed opioids develop a use disorder.
Given the fact that nearly 100 million Americans filled prescriptions for opioids in 2015, this statistic is rather terrifying. The National Institute on Drug Abuse also estimates that nearly a third of all people prescribed opioids initially misuse or abuse these drugs.
4-6 percent of these people will eventually transition to using heroin.
7. Doctors are prescribing opioids at four times the rate at which they prescribed opioids fifteen years ago.
Despite the known fact that opioids are highly addictive and the U.S. is undergoing a crisis of addiction, doctors are still handing out opioid prescriptions at an extremely high rate.
This is because opioids are relatively successful at chronic pain treatment, and they are widely accessible in medical communities.
8. Victims of the opioid epidemic are predominantly young white males.
While a portion of opioid addicts is female, non-white, and/or middle-aged or elderly, most victims of the epidemic are younger, white, and male.
In fact, nearly three-quarters of these victims are white.
9. Nearly 20% of people with opioid addictions are uninsured.
Medical insurance is vital for people suffering from addictions of any kind. Insurance can provide financial coverage for critical services, such as medical detoxes, inpatient care, and outpatient care.
Insurance can give addicts a means of getting the treatment they need to release their addiction, including treatment of withdrawal symptoms. Uninsured individuals are therefore far less likely to seek out medical or psychological treatment.
Of the people with opioid use disorders who are insured, only a small portion make use of private insurance. Most rely on Medicaid.
10. Less than a third of addicts receive adequate treatment.
Given all the statistics about the opioid addiction epidemic cited in this article, this is perhaps the most devastating of all. Sufficient treatment is the answer for ensuring that addicts get the help they need and avoid overdose.
Yet due to insurance issues and other obstacles, many people struggling with opioid addiction cannot get the relief that they deserve.
Only a very small percentage of addicts get comprehensive help, too. Comprehensive help includes detoxing, inpatient care, and outpatient rehabilitation. In most cases, treatment facilities can help patients transition to a fully sober life.
The Opioid Addiction Epidemic
There’s no question that the opioid addiction epidemic is a growing crisis. While a lot has yet to be done on the political scale to prevent these addictions from increasing, it is possible to find help for those struggling with addiction.
At Sagebrush, we believe in giving all individuals a chance to reclaim their lives. Treatment centers like ours are making sure that this epidemic is short-lived.
If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid misuse or dependency, we can help. Start a conversation with us right now!