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Has the Extent of the Opioid Crisis Been Under-Reported?

What do we know about the extent of the opioid addiction crisis in America?

The CDC estimates that as many as 10.3 million Americans aged 12 and older misused opioids in 2018 alone.  Tens of thousands died from an overdose that year.

Here's more from the CDC:

Overdose deaths from opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), have increased almost six times since 1999. Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 47,000 people in 2017, and 36% of those deaths involved prescription opioids.

Does that data tell the whole story?

Addiction experts now don't believe it does. According to ABC News:

…a recent study published in the journal "Addiction" looked at a total of 632,331 drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016. Of these deaths, 78.2% were drug overdoses with known drug classification, and 21.8% were unclassified drug overdoses. Of the unclassified drug overdoses, further investigation revealed that 71.8% involved opioids, translating to 99,160 additional opioid-related deaths."

What does this data really show?

That of all drug overdose deaths recorded in the last ten years in the U.S., roughly 30% more of them than previously thought were caused by opioids.

What's the lesson one can take from this new data?

The simple lesson is we need to do a better job as a nation tracking overdose deaths.

The other lesson is for regulators and physicians.  Regulators need to keep drug companies at arm's length so those companies can be fairly and objectively overseen. 

And physicians?

Their calling requires that they first do no harm.  The addictive nature of prescription drugs was as clear as clean glass for years… and yet physicians continued to prescribe them – often irresponsibly.  Going forward, there has to be a reckoning inside organized medicine  - a recognition of the potential to do harm and a commitment to find ways to avoid such harm in the future.

If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help.  Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care.  To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, please contact us.

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