In a move that is widely supported by both political parties, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Doing so will allow for additional resources to be used toward fighting the opioid crisis, which could include expanding treatment facilities and supplying first responders with the anti-overdose remedy, naloxone.
Research reported this week in HealthDay, U.S. News and World Report’s e-Newsletter, states that how long a patient takes opioid painkillers after surgery is a much stronger risk factor for addiction and overdose than the dosage of the opioids taken.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and posted on their web site highlighted the fact that most U.S. studies of national trends in medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids have focused on adults. Given the limited understanding in these trends among adolescents, the AAP examined national trends in the medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids among high school seniors between 1976 and 2015.
Opioid medications are prescribed to alleviate pain and suffering, but their abuse and misuse is killing more than 33,000 Americans every year. Prescription painkiller abuse is a problem of epidemic proportions and a significant national public health challenge. The good news is that states are increasingly taking action against this epidemic with an important weapon: health information technology in the form of e-prescribing.
- $55 billion in health and social costs related to prescription opioid abuse each year
- $20 billion in emergency department and inpatient care for opioid poisonings
- On an average day in the U.S. more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions dispensed
- 3,900 people daily initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids
- 580 people initiate heroin use
- 78 people daily die from an opioid-related overdose
- Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin
- An estimated 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction
- Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015.
- Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin
- Over 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills
- Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers
- People often share their unused pain relievers, unaware of the dangers of nonmedical opioid use.
- Most adolescents who misuse prescription pain relievers are given them for free by a friend or relative
- The prescribing rates for prescription opioids among adolescents and young adults has nearly doubled
- Women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and use them for longer time periods than men
- Women may become dependent on prescription pain relievers more quickly than men
- 48,000 women died of prescription pain reliever overdoses between 1999 and 2010.