The opioid epidemic is one of the greatest crises that this country has ever faced. Every day, countless numbers of men and women die at a young age because of overdoses. This epidemic knows no age bracket, as people of all ages have fallen victim to this addiction. It is thought that 25 million United States residents have daily chronic pain and of that number, 2 million are addicted to opioids. This addiction may have helped to create the opioid epidemic we now face.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released two reports. One report told of all causes of death, and the other report showed deaths from drug overdoses in the United States. The CDC calls these deaths “unintentional injuries.”
The CDC report shows that the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.6 years— down 0.1 years from last year. Deaths from ailments like cancer and heart disease fell. While this is good news about overall health, the rate of death from an overdose from opioids— or what the CDC’s report called “unknown sources,” increased— where the age was younger than 65.
The report from the CDC shows that death from drug overdoses killed 63,600 people in 2016. This means that the number of people dying from a drug overdose tripled, from 6.1 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 19.8 in 2016.
Hopefully, this is not a long-term trend— as more treatments for opioid addiction become available, such as constructing additional substance abuse centers. Also, there are several prescription treatment options like methadone, so people suffering from opioid or heroin addiction can get help with withdrawal.
Perhaps the best medication is education and awareness— knowing how not to get hooked on these drugs in the first place. It can be difficult for parents to have that talk with their children about drug addiction, but all too often, we see adolescents as young as 13 experience overdoses from drugs. If you need to learn how to talk to your kids about drug addiction, there are several outreach and websites available. It’s not an easy subject to talk about. No one wants to admit that it’s in their neighborhood, but addiction knows no social structure or hierarchy. It can happen to anyone, at any time. Sometimes, people find themselves addicted to pills due to surgery. Other times, people are introduced to pills by individuals they believe to be friends. Either way, awareness and education about the subject is key to defeat it.
Washington, D.C. has already stated several times that it plans to confront the opioid epidemic head on, and strike at the core. We too, as average everyday people, can take steps to ensure our safety by knowing that this is not a trend we want to continue.
If you or someone you know has an addiction problem, don’t wait— below are links to several outreach programs that you can contact to get started. If you suspect a drug problem in your neighborhood, contact your local police department and let them know.
Addictions & Recovery
Help for Families of Addicts – Al-Anon https://al-anon.org/
Heroin Addiction Help http://heroin.net/