For the first time ever, the odds of dying in a car accident are smaller than the chances of overdosing on opioids. The National Safety Council analyzed fatality statistics from 2017 and found that lifetime odds of dying from opioid overdose were greater than death from car accidents, pedestrian accidents, falls, drowning and fires. Sadly, the common misconception for many people is that the opioid crisis won't affect them. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals that the overdose rates are increasing across the US and it may only be a matter of time before someone you know is another victim.
Looking at the Numbers
According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, the number of children and teens admitted to hospitals for opioid overdose has nearly doubled since 2004. The study looked at children and teens between the ages of 1-17 who were admitted to intensive care units for opioid-related diagnosis from 2004-2015. Researchers identified 3,647 patients across the country who were admitted for opioid-related incidents. Sadly, almost half of these patients end up in the intensive care unit.
According to the CDC, there were 70,237 overdose deaths that occurred in the US in 2017 - this is 9.6% rise from 2016. Opioid overdoses accounted for almost 70% of these deaths. Statistically significant states with synthetic opioid overdoses include Arizona (increased by 122.2%, North Carolina (increased by 112.9% and Oregon (saw a 90.9% increase). Illegally manufactured fentanyl was a major contributing factor to the number of opioid overdoses in 2017 the largest rate of increase was among 25-44 year-old men.
How Are Lawmakers Fighting This Epidemic?
It can be argued that lawmakers are not doing enough to combat the opioid epidemic. A report by the Washington Post claims Congress has not caught up with the major opioid problem. The report claims in order for this epidemic to be stopped something similar to national effort seen during the AIDS epidemic needs to happen. There needs to be more money granted to opioid addiction prevention campaigns, more funding response, more treatment centers and development of non-addictive painkillers.
The most significant legislation that has come out of Congress seems to be the STOP act of 2018. This bill is aimed at stopping the flow of fentanyl abroad - primarily from China ( a large manufacturer of synthetic fentanyl). It authorizes U.S border control to process shipments and requires that postal shippers include details about the parcel and include names addresses of recipients. Many people across the country still think Congress isn't doing enough to combat this epidemic and new efforts are being implemented by everyday citizens to fight this problem in their own backyard.
The CDC started a program called OPIS (Overdose Prevention in States) that works with 45 states across the US to inform and raise awareness about the opioid epidemic. This program works with communities to enhance prescription drug monitoring programs, share statistics with each other, report non-fatal and fatal overdoses more quickly. The sharing of information between local states and surrounding communities allows people to rapidly respond with targeted resources and quickly identify opioid "hot spots." These prescription drug campaigns have had success in decreasing opioid prescriptions and fatalities.
Take Action Into Your Own Hands
Knowing the facts is the first step to addressing this epidemic. Too many young people are dying due to the use of these opioids and prescription painkillers. It's important to work together as a community or with your school to address the crisis and monitor people around you who might be struggling with this addiction. If you know someone struggling with opioid addiction, don't wait for it to be too late -- get them the help they need right away.
Resources For Those Struggling With Addiction: