Recent Opioid Outbreak
United States Losing the Battle against Recent Opioid Outbreak
On February 28th 2017 in a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump promised to end the deadly ‘drug epidemic’ in the United States. While discussing the social ills in the US, Mr. Trump may exaggerate. But when it comes to drugs, his so-called apocalyptic and dark tone may have been warranted well.
Over 52,000 citizens died of drug overdose in 2015, as reported by the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). On average, one person died in every 10 minutes.
Around 2/3rds (33000) of these deadly overdoses were from opioids like heroin and painkillers. Even though the death toll due to opioids rises in major cities like Baltimore and Chicago, even the rural Appalachia, New England as well as the Midwest are not left behind. Most of the victims are the residents of rural towns and middle-class suburbs.
Opiod epidemic in the United States has its roots in the mass manufacturing of prescription painkillers. From 1991 to 2011, the number of opioid prescription drugs supplied by the retail pharmacies raised from 76 million to 219 million. In 2002, every sixth user took a painkiller which was more powerful than morphine. By 2012, the number increased to three.
Since then, States launched drug-controlling programmes and started arresting corrupt doctors. Pharmaceuticals have reformulated their medicines to make them less likely to abuse.
Sadly, with the reduced supply of pain medications, many addicts switched to heroin which is available in abundance and is cheap. By 2014, large number of Americans sought cure for heroin abuse than any other medication. In 2015, the death toll rises to 15% due to opioid outbreak and 23% due to heroin abuse.
In recent months, statistics show that opioid epidemic has worsened, mostly because of the increasing use of a synthetic opioid, fentanyl, a painkiller which is up to 100 times stronger than morphine.