The opioid epidemic seems to be hitting the headlines every week. It has claimed the lives of countless people, including many well known actors and musicians, and it only seems to be getting worse. To show just how pervasive it is, take a look at these shocking statistics.
Huge Number of Deaths
As noted in this article written by a truck accident lawyer, the number of road accidents in the United States is on the increase. There are millions of people involved in accidents on US roads and around 35,000 of these die. That’s a huge number, but it doesn’t come close to the number of people that die from drug overdoses.
In fact, nearly twice as many die from a drug overdose and 50,000 of these are directly related to opioids. This issue has even overtaken suicide. Around 129 people take their lives every day in the US, but 130 die from opioid overdoses.
This issue is bigger in the US than it is in any other developed nation and it’s only getting worse, proving that the US is on a very slippery slope.
200 Million at Risk
This crisis began with an overprescription of opioids. People take them for pain, they develop a tolerance, take more, and before they know it they are addicted. Many users turn to street drugs when they have their prescription taken away or when they can no longer afford that prescription and realize that heroin is cheaper.
This means that every prescription is a risk, and when you consider that there were 214 million prescriptions handed out in 2016, you begin to realize just how big this threat is. That’s 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people, which is more than any other nation.
Injuries and Abuse
It has been estimated that over 11 million people abuse opioids every year in the United States. Of these, over 1,000 end up in the emergency room every single day. And that doesn’t include the people who abuse heroin, which accounts for many hundreds of admissions.
And before you think that this abuse is largely the result of street drugs being contaminated with fentanyl, 40% of the deaths that occur every year come from legally prescribed opioids.
The opioid epidemic has no doubt earned a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies and even for some of the doctors that have been incentivized to prescribe them. But on the whole it’s costing the country just as much as it’s profiting, if not more.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the opioid epidemic costs the United States economy over $70 billion a year. This cost factors things such as overdose care and rehab care into account, but it also considers the high costs to the criminal justice system and the money lost through low productivity.