The past couple of years have seen an increase in the overdose rates among opioid users across the country. This is in part why President Obama addressed the nation back in May in order to bring awareness to the growing opioid epidemic faced by the United States and it has also resulted in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to pass through Congress with lightning speed. However, greater public awareness and a change in legislation did little to stop the rise of opioid-related deaths that the country experienced this past summer and going into the fall, the numbers are getting higher.
The problem with drug overdoses is not a new phenomenon though and it has been an issue that has been silently growing over the years. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2014 there were more drugs overdoses reported than in any other year on record, at final count, the number was 47,055. That is 47,055 people who died needlessly from drug overdoses, to put this number in perspective, that same year 32,719 people died in car accidents, meaning more people died from drug overdoses than car accidents.
Since 2000, opioid overdoses have increased by 200% in the country, when compared to years prior, resulting in the death of nearly half a million Americans just from opioids. These numbers are staggering and with the new trend in many parts of the country – having heroin laced with fentanyl – the numbers do not seem to be decreasing anytime soon.
South Florida is one of the parts of the nation that has been hit hardest by the rise in drug overdoses and in 2015 – 1,400 people died from opioid overdoses alone. A recent report showed that in 2016 there was an overdose every 2 hours, meaning that at least 12 people a day in the area from the Key West to Palm Beach suffer from an opioid overdose.
Although, as bad as things are in South Florida, West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio are the States that currently have the highest rates of overdoses in the country when taking into account deaths per capita.
In 2014, California had the most drug overdoses that lead to death with 4,521 people dying that year. Ohio was second with 2,744 people, Pennsylvania third with 2,732 people, Florida fourth with 2,634 people, and Texas fifth with 2,601 people dying.
It isn’t just the large number of people that are dying every year from drug overdoses that is alarming, but the rate at which they are occurring is also increasing. North Dakota saw an increase of 125% in overdose related deaths from 2013 to 2014 and New Hampshire saw an increase of 73.5%. There were an additional 20 States that saw a double-digit increase and only 12 States that saw a decrease during this same time period.
Experts believe the driving force behind the increase in overdoses started with the introduction of the powerful painkiller Oxycontin into US markets in the late 90s. Initially lauded as a safe and less addictive alternative to other pain medications, Oxycontin was met with widespread acceptance for the first few years of its existence. However, these claims turned out to not be true, but by the time that this was discovered, the drug had already embedded itself into the fabric of American substance abuse.
For years, legitimate physicians prescribed Oxycontin liberally and because of this, many people were introduced to the powerful opioid that may never have had access to opiates otherwise. Even if you couldn’t obtain the drug from an actual physician, there were alternatives like the growing black market for the drug or in certain States like Florida, “pill mills” popped up where people could obtain the drug “legally” even if they did not medically need the medication.
By the time that it became apparent that Oxycontin was leading to a nationwide pandemic of addiction, it was already too late and many people were hopelessly addicted. Once the Government finally stepped in and made obtaining the drug more difficult, many people were already too far into their addiction and so they made the switch to heroin, which was cheaper and easier to obtain. From this point, the stage was set for what we are currently experiencing in this country and a nationwide problem with opioid addiction.
To make matters worse, synthetic opioid-like drugs also started to make their way onto American shores and this only added to the already burgeoning problem. Drugs like U-47700, which is said to be at least 8 times more potent than morphine, and other such drugs were sold legally online due to their creators changing certain chemical compounds. The government scrambled to make laws to keep up with the rapidly changing synthetic drug market, but with each step, they were met with new drugs that balked the system.
Where the Nation is going in terms of overdoses is hard to tell at this point but if the past few years have been any indication, then we still have a lot of work to do. It is definitely a positive thing that there is a lot of public attention being focused on this problem, but due to arcane drug laws and a general misunderstanding about what addiction is, it seems that everything we do as a country only makes things worse.
Seeking Treatment For Opioid Addiction
If you are one of the millions of people caught in the grasp of an opioid addiction and you no longer want to live under its constant tyranny, then call the professionals at Dream Center for Recovery today, at 1-877-978-3148. Our trained staff is well equipped to help you finally overcome your addiction and start a new drug-free life.
The prospect of ending an addiction is often frightening, but with Dream Center for Recovery, we can help to make this transition as easy as possible. You are not alone and you do not need to face your struggles alone, so call us today and let us help you break free from the national epidemic that is opioid addiction.