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Pharmaceutical Wildfire: The Uncontrollable Opioid Drug Epidemic in America Today

We are in the middle of the largest drug problem our country has ever seen.

In fact, the issue has actually gotten so bad that the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have all labeled the growing drug problem an actual epidemic.

At the heart of the issue lies opioids, a class of drugs that includes substances like heroin, OxyContin, and opium.

We take a look at the full scope of the crippling opioid problem as well as some of the root causes that have turned it into such a deadly mess in the first place.

A Few Statistics About the Current Drug Epidemic in America

In all likelihood, you’ve probably already heard a thing or two about the growing epidemic and know that it has become quite a serious problem. However, you may not be fully aware of the true scope of the issue and how bad it’s actually gotten.

Below are a few statistics provided by the CDC and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to put the epidemic into perspective.

  • Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled from 19999 to 2015.
  • 91 Americans die every single day from opioid overdoses alone.
  • More than 40 people die each day from abusing prescription opioids.
  • Over 1,000 people end up in the emergency department each day for abusing prescription opioids.
  • Around 25% of patients who are treated for noncancerous pain with long-term prescription opioids end up struggling with addiction.
  • Around 2 million Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014.
  • 2015 saw 33,091 opioid overdose deaths – 12,990 from heroin and 20,101 from prescription pain relievers.

The opioid epidemic is real. And it’s worse than it’s ever been.

What’s Causing the Problem?

There are a number of theories as to what is the root cause of the epidemic. Widespread unemployment has been cited as one reason for the surge in use. The drop in heroin costs recently is another.

But more often than not, the true culprit gets traced back to the doctors themselves. Reckless overprescribing tactics, a lack of concern for eventual dependence, and influence from the drug manufacturers have all contributed to creating a pro-opioid culture in much of the medical community.

And when you have a healthcare system where the patient’s choices are largely driven by the suggestion of the doctor, it’s no wonder the problem has gotten so out of hand.

In response, many organizations like the CDC have developed a number of guidelines for prescribing opioids responsibly to reduce the risk of developing an addiction. And while there is still much more work to be done, steps like these are a crucial part of curbing the problem.

The Opioid Drug Epidemic in America

The opioid epidemic is by far one of the worst health crises our country has ever seen. It is causing a record number of drug overdose deaths and is crippling the lives of individuals and families across America.

While the root of the problem can be traced back to an irresponsible and careless medical industry, efforts are being made to help mitigate the damage of this epidemic including incorporating evidence-based treatment into effective addiction programs. That being said, there’s still a long road ahead when it comes to dealing with this particular addiction problem.