Opioid addiction has become such a severe problem in American that it is now labeled an epidemic. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlights how the crisis has impacted virtually every segment of our society. There are some programs in place to address these issues and, fortunately, there is also addiction treatment available for those who are struggling with opioid addiction.
How Serious is This Country’s Opioid Epidemic?
The HHS used a tool provided by the Centers for Disease Control as well as data from the National Survey on Drug abuse to come up with the following figures for this nation’s opioid epidemic as of 2016:
- 11.5 million people misused prescription painkillers
- 2.1 million people had an opioid use disorder
- Over 42,200 deaths involved opioids
- $504 billion in economic costs
Since 1999, the volume of prescription drugs prescribed and sold in the U.S. has increased nearly fourfold. Each day in this country, 44 people die due to prescription drug overdoses. Many healthcare providers have been found to be overprescribing these drugs. Even as the federal response to the prescription opioid epidemic kicked in, the rates of heroin and synthetic overdose deaths have soared.
As of 2016, 170,000 Americans used heroin for the first time, and there were close to 1 million who reported using the drug. Heroin use among young adults has more than doubled in the past decade, and 45 percent of heroin users report that they have also been addicted to prescription painkillers.
Fentanyl abuse has also swept the nation over the past several years. This synthetic opioid is often illicitly manufactured and brought in from outside the U.S. The drug is 80 times more powerful than morphine and is so fast-acting that it has been responsible for a growing number of opioid overdose deaths, with more than 20,000 in 2016 alone.
What Plans and Programs Have Been Put in Place to Address This Crisis?
The HHS has recommended and helped to coordinate several programs and initiatives meant to address the opioid addiction crisis in the U.S. Among them are:
- Overdose Response. The increased availability of Naloxone can reduce opioid-related overdose deaths.
- Drug Courts. Instead of punishing addicts for their use, drug courts have diversion programs that provide addiction treatment options instead of jail time.
- Clinician Resources. Education and tools for medical providers can help reduce prescription drug abuse and the overprescribing of dangerous medications.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines addiction treatment programs with medications to treat opioid abuse and behavioral therapy.
What Addiction Treatment Resources Are Available If You Need Help?
Opioid addiction may very well be the most serious health crisis that our country has faced in a generation. While there are some programs in place to address these pressing issues, there remains much to be done before this epidemic is under control. Fortunately, if you are suffering from an opioid use disorder, there is addiction treatment available right now.
The Recovery Village offers focused and compassionate substance abuse treatment services that include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and family therapy. If you cannot stop using opioids on your own, you are not alone.