5 Critical Facts About the Opioid Addiction And Abuse Epidemic
It’s no secret that a full-blown opioid addiction epidemic is waging in the United States, fueled by prescriptions, heroin, and ultra-potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Here’s some key facts that everyone should know about the current state of the opioid use crisis.
#1 In fifteen years, opioid overdose deaths quadrupled, and now drug overdoses kill more people than car crashes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between years 1999-2014, deaths by opioid overdose increased nearly four-fold. And in 2014, over 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Of those, more than half involved a prescription opioid.
Also, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2013 more than 46,000 people died from a drug overdose, far more than people killed in car accidents, which numbered 35,369.
#2 The number of prescriptions written for opioids also quadrupled between 1999-2010.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine says that the amount of opioid prescriptions sold in 2010 was four times that of 1999. And in 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written – enough to put one bottle of pills in the hands of every adult American.
#3 Prescription apioid addiction often leads to heroin use.
A 2013 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that 4 in 5 persons in the U.S. who started using heroin also reported first using prescription opioids for non-medical purposes.
While using opioids as directed is less likely to lead to dependency, still about 5% will develop an opioid addiction, according to the National Institutes of Health.
#4 Fentanyl, 100 times more potent than morphine, is killing Americans at an increasing rate.
According to a 2016 report, overdose deaths from synthetic opioids including fentanyl have significantly increased in several states, including Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina.
Most of these states reported their statistics specifically as being fentanyl-related, and the number of deaths in these states rose from under 400 to 1400 between 2013-2014. Also, drugs seized which tested positive for fentanyl increased over ten times in these 8 states.
Fentanyl was responsible for the untimely death of the artist Prince in April of this year.
#5 Carfentanil, 100 more times more powerful than fentanyl, has been wreaking havoc in Ohio.
Dozens of overdoses and several deaths in both Cincinnati and Columbus, OH have been linked to carfentanil in the past few months. The drug is so powerful that is it only indicated for use in large animal sedation, such as elephants.
Handlers of the drug typically use protective gear such as gloves and masks to prevent accidental exposure. Even seemingly minor skin contact with the drug may be enough to cause an overdose.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology