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March 06, 2019
The opioid epidemic, which has taken over the United States by storm, is far from being over. According to a recent projection pertaining to opioid overdose death rates, the number of fatal overdose is likely to rise sharply in the coming years. Even though there is steady progress in terms of reducing prescription drug abuse across the U.S., the number of fatal overdoses reached 47,600 in 2017 and is expected to rise further.
According to the forecast, these deaths are likely to peak around 75,400 by 2022 and would begin to level off thereafter. In another scenario, it is projected that by 2025, the U.S. can expect to see around 81,700 opioid overdose deaths every year.
Driving force behind opioid epidemic has changed
Lead author, Jagpreet Chhatwal, decision scientist, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, stated that no matter how one tries to dissect the figures, the nation’s opioid epidemic is not getting over anytime soon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after the use of prescription painkillers fueled an addiction epidemic, opiates are claiming an average of 130 lives per day in the U.S.
The scientist also observed that the driving force behind the opioid epidemic has changed through the years. Presently, a large section of opioid overdose victims are hooked to street drugs like heroin. The explosive growth of fentanyl since 2016 has given this epidemic a new driving force. According to Dr. Donald Burke, data scientist at the University of Pittsburg, a large number of Americans initially exposed to opiates by prescription have continued to misuse the latter over the years.
Controlling opioid overdose epidemic requires multi-pronged approach
According to a recent report published in the journal JAMA Network Open, slowing the epidemic’s upward trend before 2025 will warrant broad-based action coupled with a bit of luck. The mathematical model suggests that in order for the number of opioid-related deaths to level off by 2022, the first approach should continue to be at the level of public health and medical professionals. They should continue to write a lower number of prescriptions, the primary reason for a number of Americans to first get addicted to opioids. The model also assumes that fewer Americans would get addicted to an illicit street drug like heroin and also that successful treatments for such types of addiction will increase.
Chhatwal in his work suggests that even if pharmacists and doctors cut off all kinds of prescriptions of narcotic painkillers, overdoses are still likely to rise until 2025 and beyond. However, Burke cautioned that the assumptions made by the study about the drug users “behavior are pure guesswork and the results should be interpreted with caution.”
According to George Bobashev, a biostatistician at RTI International, North Carolina, this new model leaves a lot of questions unanswered. He said that it is not advisable to wait till the perfect data is derived, especially since a crisis of this magnitude is looming large over our heads. In fact, it needs as much analysis and forward-looking models as possible, he said.
Recovering from opioid addiction
Opioid abuse and addiction is a national health crisis posing a huge burden on public health and threatening the economic and social welfare of America. Ironically the number of deaths due to opioid overdose continues to rise. Unfortunately, any kind of addiction is difficult to overcome on its own and one needs professional help to deal with it. Invictus Health Group offers various addiction treatment programs in several cities across the United States to help people dealing with addiction and to embrace long-lasting recovery.
If you or a loved one is battling an opioid addiction and is looking for reliable drug rehabilitation centers, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. Call our 24/7 drug addiction treatment helpline 866-548-0190 to access our comprehensive evidence-based treatment plans for patients dealing with substance abuse and mental health disorders. You can also chat online with our experts who can guide you with opioid addiction help and suggest a detox program well-suited to your needs.