The Opioid Crisis: An Update

The Opioid Crisis: An Update

Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

What we know today about the Opioid Crisis:

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.
  • The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017.
  • Opioid overdoses in large cities increase by 54 percent in 16 states.

This issue has become a public health crisis.  The increase in injection drug use has also contributed to the spread of infectious diseases including HIV and Hepatitis C. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is focusing its efforts on five major priorities:

  1. improving access to treatment and recovery services
  2. promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs
  3. strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  4. providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
  5. advancing better practices for pain management

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is working to discover improved ways to prevent opioid misuse, treat opioid use disorders, and manage pain.

In April 2018 the NIH announced the launch of the HEAL Initiative (Helping End Addiction Long-term) – an aggressive, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis.

AA Ross Family Counseling has a 3-hr board approved CEU course that covers the Opioid Crisis in the US today.

Sign up for the Opioid Crisis Course