There is no denying the fact that recent years have witnessed a steep rise in overdose deaths across the United States, with opioids claiming more lives than any other drug. Now, an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that the opioid epidemic is killing more Americans than firearms on an annual basis.
According to the CDC, in 2016, nearly 42,000 people succumbed to drug overdoses involving an opioid as compared to 38,658 gun-related deaths in the country. In an effort to highlight the deep-rootedness of the opioid crisis, the CDC further mentioned that the country recorded 32,445 fatalities involving a prescription opioid in the same year. This was nearly a 10,000 increase from the year before.
As per the CDC, the prevalent opioid crisis is an epidemic while gun violence is not because the addiction outbreak was sudden with the number of cases escalating at a much higher rate than expected based on the population of an area. On the contrary, the rate of deaths due to firearm-related injuries has been more or less consistent.
Analyzing the data further revealed that deaths due to opioid overdoses have superseded fatalities caused by other drugs. “All the numbers are likely to underestimate the true burden given the large proportion of overdose deaths where the type of drug is not listed on the death certificate,” said the CDC. The CDC also suggested that the epidemic has been propelled by two trends — a 17-year increase in deaths from prescription opioid overdoses, and a recent surge in illicit opioid overdoses driven mainly by heroin and illegally-made fentanyl.
Mayhem of opioid crisis
The opioid crisis has caused an unprecedented devastation in the U.S. It has affected everyone — from teenagers, young adults and women to elderly people. Opioids are medicines that are prescribed to people suffering from a chronic pain or illness. These medications are highly effective but are also sedative in nature. As a result, many tend to use them for non-medical purposes. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 11.5 million Americans aged 12 years and older misused prescription pain medicines in 2016.
Surveys show that many people who are prescribed opioids happen to increase their dosage without consulting their doctors. They do so because the long-term use of opioid fails to give the same effect as the first dose. Hence, in order to attain the same relief, they increase the dose, which unfortunately results in an overdose. Another significant factor for the rise in the problem is the presence of heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which are easily available and cheaper than prescription opioids. Therefore, many people abusing opioids eventually switch to these synthetic derivatives to experience more high and euphoric effects.
Dealing with opioid addiction
There is a popular notion that has encouraged the misuse of opioids among people is that prescription drugs are less harmful than any other illicit drug. However, the truth is that since opioids are manufactured to treat a specific condition, dependency on them can lead to permanent or long-term alternations in the body, thereby causing more severe damages. Therefore, an individual should strictly adhere to the prescribed dose to avoid dependency on the drug. Also, people should ask for alternatives to opioids as long-term opioid use can increase the risk of addiction.
Fortunately, opioid addiction is a treatable disease. If you or your loved one is suffering from opioid addiction or experiencing its symptoms, seek help from the Texas Substance Abuse Helpline. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 971-2658 or chat online with our expert to know about the best substance abuse treatment centers in Texas. Our certified representative can also help you to connect with one of the finest substance abuse treatment centers available near you.