The Current State of the Opioid Epidemic in the US

The United States has been facing a serious issue regarding drug overdose for a while now. This time, the increase in opioid overdose is going up at an alarming rate. In general, the drug overdose death percentage has increased by about 5% from 2018 to 2019 and has quadrupled since 1999. The overall death percentage from opium overdose has increased by about 6%. Let’s look at the nature, facts, and statistics about opioid overdose and related deaths below.

Opioid Overdose — The Three Stages

If we look at the statistics, we can see that there are three waves of opioid abuse and overdose. Data from 1999 to 2019 show that nearly 500,000 people died of opioid overdose. Among the deceased, both cases of prescription and illicit opioids are there. The first wave of opioid overdose began in the early 1990s; the first cases were about prescription opioids. Natural and semi-synthetic opioid overdose cases were on the rise, too.

The second wave started around the 2010s, and this time the epidemic took an even bigger toll. This time, opioids such as heroin were at the forefront of overdose deaths.

After 2013, the third wave of opioid overdose came to being. The surge in illicitly-manufactured opioids such as fentanyl.

The Reason Behind the Opioid Epidemics

There are a number of factors that have direct and indirect links to opioid overdose and the epidemic. One factor among them can be the aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies. The higher frequency of marketing opioid drugs to physicians and over-the-counter medical stores can aid in a significant rise in opioid overdose. The more these drugs are marketed to physicians, the more opioid drug sales are, resulting in more opioid usage, many of which lead to dependency and overdose.

There is also a socio-economical factor in this matter. The doctors are prescribing these opioids more to economically backward classes, who have a higher chance of getting dependent on these opioid drugs. Increased dependency is directly correlated to higher doses each time and eventually crosses the safety threshold.

Moreover, opioids such as fentanyl are available in combination with other hard drugs and hallucinogens in abundant quantities in the illicit market, on which the government has no reliable data. However, fatalities related to opioids and other hard drugs have been increasing.

Countering the Opioid Epidemic

The CDC is doing every bit it can to prevent and regulate this epidemic. The entire process has several steps, and all of them must work seamlessly to control opioid usage all over. The CDC is collaborating with states and governments to collect data to identify outbreaks. They are also closely monitoring particular classes and communities so they can respond to cases of overdoses and provide sufficient care. They are also collaborating with various community services that are committed to providing support and care to the affected people.

  • They are monitoring trends to understand the nature of the epidemic.
  • They are building state and other facilities to bring in people who need treatment and support to fight addiction. That will also stop overdose mortality over time.
  • Public awareness plays an important role when it comes to social issues such as this. CDC, along with other social services, are jointly spreading awareness about the misuse of opioid drugs and safe usage.
  • The usage of medication bags can be effective in preventing the misuse of these drugs. Medication bags are handy when it comes to making these drugs ineffective. There are also locked medication bags, which are even more useful in the matter of preventing usage. There can be studies on how medication bags can help in the opioid crisis. There is also evidence that medication bags are a safe space for storing your medication and other sensitive medical information.

With data collection and securing epidemic zones with valuable resources, collaboration between various entities seems to be key when fighting against a social issue. The CDC has joined hands with multiple healthcare facilities, first responders, public health officials, mental health professionals, and social service providers to create awareness about opioid use. Without that, fighting against the opioid epidemic seems like a long-lost war.

Conclusion

As the US sees an increasing number of deaths from opioid overdoses, it is high time the government pays even closer attention to identifying all the major causes of this ongoing epidemic. Above all, the general public should always be cautious about using medication and steer clear of drugs in order to protect themselves and their close ones from this opioid epidemic.

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Sabrina Cavanagh

Scientific geek and cat person who enjoys adult colouring books, going to the movies and jigsaw puzzles. Loves seafood but allergic to it.