Grim news was printed this week, courtesy of The New York Times. And, once again opioids are at the center of the discussion. Preliminary data compiled by the newspaper indicates that drug overdose deaths in America probably exceeded 59,000 last year. Unless something drastic is done soon, this is a trend that will likely continue in the coming years.
People are dying. Opioid use disorder, or opioid addiction is the root of the problem. Yet, in 2017, nearly twenty years into the 21st Century, millions of Americans still struggle to access addiction treatment services. Even when they want help. In rural America, the closest addiction treatment center is sometimes hundreds of miles away. Given that fact that many opioid addicts are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, the likelihood of traveling such distances for help is slim to none.
In addition to a lack of treatment options, many addicts still have hard time getting naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug that has saved thousands of American lives, and will continue to do so. But, getting the drug without a prescription is still not possible in certain places. Even if one can acquire it, affording the medicine is a whole different story. Perhaps you’ve heard the news about ever-increasing naloxone prices. Wherever you find demand, you find greed.
An Epidemic That Costs Billions
Prescription opioids are still a problem, to be sure. Yet, heroin use has steadily increased in recent years. What’s more, the mixing of heroin and fentanyl has become a common occurrence. Users who don’t know their heroin was mixed with the deadly painkiller are at great risk of overdose death.
There are an estimated 1 million people actively using heroin in America today, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago press release. All told, heroin use in the United States costs society $51 billion in 2015. The costs are tied to:
- Addiction Treatment
- Heroin-related Crime
- Treating Chronic Infectious Diseases
- Treating Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
- Overdose Deaths
- Lost Job Productivity
“The downstream effects of heroin use, such as the spread of infectious diseases and increased incarceration due to actions associated with heroin use, compounded by their associated costs, would continue to increase the societal burden of heroin use disorder,” said UIC pharmacoeconomists, Simon Pickard.
The Greatest Cost Is Life
Loss of productivity pales in comparison to the staggering death toll that could be reduced by increasing access to addiction treatment services. The longer one goes without treatment, the greater the chance of an overdose. If you are struggling with addiction to any form of opioids, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope By The Sea today.
Our highly-trained staff specializes in the treatment of opioid use disorder. The opioid addiction epidemic is the most serious drug crisis the world has ever seen, and putting an end to it starts with treatment.