The United States Opiate Epidemic

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If you watch TV or read the news, there is a good chance you have heard about opiates in one form or another. They are the most popular medication for treating pain conditions such as post surgery pain, accidental sprains and breaks, and chronic pain like arthritis or fibromyalgia pain. Unfortunately, opiates have a much darker side. They are highly addictive and very dangerous. In the past most people viewed heroin and opium as the only dangerous opiates, this is no longer true. Deaths from prescription opiates far outweigh those of the illegal varieties. At this point, opiate addiction and abuse is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States.

Opiate Addiction Rates in the United States

It is one thing to say that many people in the United States are or may become addicted to opiates. It is quite another when you look at the actual addiction rates.

  • In one month in 2015, 3,963,000 people admit to using illegal or prescription opiates for recreation. That is almost 50,000 people a year and does not include those who are addicted to opiates due to a chronic pain condition or those who will not admit they are using. This number is in reality a lot higher when you factor in how many people deny they are taking opiates when they actually are.
  • Over 1/4 of these people will become addicted to heroin or prescription opiates over the next year.
  • This represents approximately 4.4 percent of the population.
  • These numbers increase in 2016 and 2017.

These are only the people that responded to the study and responded truthfully. Many people will lie about their addiction on surveys. This disturbing trend indicates that despite the efforts of doctors, the FDA, and other government agencies, the opiate epidemic is far from over.

Opiate Overdose Deaths in the United States

With the increasing rates of opiate addiction, you also see an increase in overdose deaths attributed to opiates. It is not enough that stars like Health Ledger, Michael Jackson, and Prince died from opiate overdose. The news seems to ignore the thousands more that die every year.

In 2015, accidental overdose was the leading cause of death in the United States. Opiates lead this with over 33,000 people dying from prescription opiate overdoses and heroin. The centers for disease control now refers to overdose deaths due to opiates as an epidemic.

What you can do

If you or someone you love suffers from opiate addiction, you need to get help and soon. When you are addicted to a dangerous opiate, you continually take more to achieve the same result. Soon the amount of opiates in your system on a regular basis cause permanent damage and may cause an overdose.

Since opiate addiction is one of the most difficult to recover from, getting help may be your only option. You can find help by reaching out to an opiate addiction clinic or referral service. Stop the opiate epidemic by starting with yourself.