Deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin have soared 200 percent since the year 2000

Deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin have soared 200 percent since the year 2000

The news stories we’ve been seeing and hearing about “soaring increases” in opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths are not over-blown media hype. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lays it all out. And it’s a very grim picture indeed. America is suffering an epidemic of deaths from opioid overdoses and prescription drug poisonings, and any doubts you may have had can be set aside once and for all. Prescription and street drugs are killing more Americans every year than all the deaths from traffic accidents, far more than all the deaths of our brave soldiers, sailors and airmen since 2001 in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and is rapidly approaching the death rates caused by infectious, communicable diseases. And the rates of increase in addictions, overdoses and deaths are incredible. Double-digit percentage increases almost every year for the past 15 years. If you live in the United States of America, and consider yourself a responsible citizen, you simply can’t ignore this unprecedented situation.

What exactly is an “epidemic”?

So there can be no doubt about what’s meant by the word “epidemic” here’s the definition: ep·i·dem·ic (epəˈdemik):
  1. a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community: a flu epidemic
  2. a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something: an epidemic of riots
Synonyms: outbreak, plague Widespread, rapid increase, plague – these words perfectly describe what’s going on in all across the country with prescription painkillers and heroin and a few other drugs, especially benzodiazapines like Xanax. It’s a plague, and it’s killing thousands of our friends, neighbors and relatives every year.

No longer just an inner-city problem

Before OxyContin hit in the 1990s, addictions and overdoses were mostly an inner-city problem. Sure, a few rock stars and movie icons now and then hit the gossip pages about dependence on alcohol, cocaine and even heroin. But heroin? That was another story. Unless you were a disadvantaged person of color in the depths of our biggest cities, heroin wasn’t even thought about. Today, it’s a whole other story. Today, countless thousands of men, women and teenager boys and girls are falling victim to dirty heroin and opioid painkillers, and everyone is sitting up and taking notice – from the White House all the way down to suburban American moms and dads. Everything has changed. The worst-hit states with the most “statistically significant increases” in drug deaths were North Dakota, New Mexico, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire and Maine. These are not states traditionally associated with inner-city drug problems.

Opioid addiction is an infectious disease

Opioid addiction is spreading like an infectious disease, jumping from person to person, from coast to coast. It’s spreading out of the cities and into our towns. And it’s spreading out of the towns into rural America. The facts are these: Painkillers and heroin are for sale everywhere in America. And heroin is the cheapest drug of all. These statistics from the CDC paint a clear picture of an epidemic. Just look at the trends of the graphs. All these numbers may seem boring at first, but do check them out, because they’re the proof that we’re dealing with an epidemic, a real plague, across America.
  • During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths (all drugs, not just opioids) occurred in the United States. That’s a one-year increase of 6.5 percent and a 150 percent increase since 2000.
  • The death rate just from opioids increased more than 14 percent from 2013 to 2014, to over 18,000 a year. This is more than double the number of annual deaths seen from those deadly antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases we’ve been hearing about.
  • Deaths from prescription opioids, such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Norco) are “more often involved in overdose deaths than any other opioid type,” said the CDC report.
  • Short-acting fentanyl, a super-powerful opioid painkiller usually prescribed as a patch, was also cited in hundreds of deaths.
  • Deaths from heroin have simply shot up in the last 5 years, from a little over 2,000 to over 10,000 deaths a year. And it’s still increasing.
  • The number of deaths related just to prescription painkillers nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014.
If that’s not an epidemic, then nothing is.

The demographics have shifted

The rate of drug overdose has exploded alarmingly among people of both sexes, aged 25–44 and over 55 years, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, in the Northeastern, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States. But the largest increases by far are among white Americans. In other words, today’s opioid overdose victims are primarily countless thousands of white, adult Americans – not people of color in the inner cities like it was a decade ago. Sadly, that fact has helped bring the situation into sharp focus among policymakers at all levels of government.

Four-Step Plan To Stop the Epidemic

The CDC says a simple 4-step program could go a long way towards ending this terrible epidemic:
  1. Limit initiation into opioid misuse and addiction through physician education.
  2. Expand access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment—including medication-assisted treatment—for people who suffer from opioid use disorder.
  3. Protect people with opioid use disorder by expanding access and use of naloxone—“a critical drug that can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose and save lives,” according to the CDC press release.
  4. State and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement agencies must work together to improve detection of and response to illicit opioid overdose outbreaks to address this emerging threat to public health and safety.
NOTE: Novus is not committed to medication-assisted treatment except as it applies to helping ease the unpleasant effects of detox. It’s been our experience that after a proper medical detox, a lengthy drug-free rehab program offers the best chances for a drug-free life, and much sooner than that offered by keeping people addicted indefinitely to other drugs.

People want help, and they can be helped

Opioid addiction doesn’t care what color you are, where you live, who you know or how much money you make. Heroin and prescription opioids are killing anonymous teenagers and famous Hollywood actors. Here at Novus, our attention is 100 percent on the epidemic and what we can contribute to help turn things around. If you or someone you care for is in trouble with opioids, call Novus and get some help.

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