News media has recently been following reports on the heroin epidemic and opioid addiction in America. On average 29 people die from heroin overdoses every day nearing 12,000 deaths a year, and rising. Recently, The Washington Postreleased an article about a different drug with an astounding death rate. The article stated that people who use this drug can become highly dangerous, agitated and violent, harming themselves and family members. It’s incredibly toxic and even fatal at high doses. Many people who start abusing it are unable to quit. Its responsible for nearly 90,000 deaths each year. And in a new survey, more than three-quarters of Americans identified it as a serious problem in their community. Its Alcohol, of course. Not surprisingly, the drugs responsible for the most deaths in America are legal and widely used. These drugs may contain health warnings and labels on the side of packages, but tobacco remains one of the deadliest drugs. Despite public education on the harm that it causes, tobacco accounts for 480,000 deaths annually. Combining both death rates, on average over half a million people will die annually.
AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on American attitudes toward substance use and abuse released a survey stating that, the majority of their participants in the survey (76%) rated alcohol as a serious problem. That means Alcohol was rated higher than painkillers, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana. The average American is more likely to consume alcohol and experience the negative effects because its legal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), America is experiencing an epidemic of drug abuse overdose deaths.
The CDC notes that since 2000, the “rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids.”
Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have sales of these prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
Since opioid addiction in on the rise, let us take a moment to address the crisis associated with this class of drugs.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and others.”
ASAM also notes the following in a 2016 facts.
Of the 21.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2014, (2015 statistics are still being compiled) 1.9 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 586,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
It is estimated that 23 percent of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014.
In 2014, 467,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain reliever, with 168,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers.
In 2014, an estimated 28,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 16,000 were current heroin users. Additionally, an estimated 18,000 adolescents had a heroin use disorder in 2014.