It is pop quiz time here at Sober Nation.
What is the leading cause of death right here in the U S of A?
If you guessed drug overdoses, you are absolutely correct.
While it may not come as any surprise, drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents and gunshot wounds as the leading cause of accidental death in this country. Yes, the specter of America’s drug epidemic has stayed on the front page of the news and social media and health officials, lawmakers and citizens alike are wrestling with ways to stem the tide.
The biggest concern centers around America’s prescription pill and heroin epidemic. Just by looking at the sheer numbers, it doesn’t take much thought to realize that we as a nation will be deeper in a world of hurt then we already are right now.
Looking at the Numbers
Just how bad is America’s prescription pill and heroin epidemic? According to information in an article that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of RT.com, 43,000 people in the United States died as a result of drug overdoses in 2013. Of that 43,000, half were due to either prescription pills or heroin.
That number is greater than the total populations of a lot of towns. If you want to break it down further, 120 people die each day in the United States due to drug overdose, and half of those deaths are due to either prescription pills or heroin.
It is pretty staggering and sobering to think about. For those who may not feel that the United States is in the grips of a massive drug problem, or feel that it isn’t affecting anyone in their backyard, these numbers may give some much needed perspective.
Why is this Happening?
If we take a closer look at America’s prescription pill and heroin epidemic, it can be observed that addiction to one drug is fueling addiction to the other. In a recent article published in TIME Magazine, writer Alexandra Sifferlin writes the following:
“Heroin-related deaths nearly tripled in the U.S. within just three years and quadrupled in 13, according to new federal data. The new report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that from 2000 to 2013, drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin increased fourfold, from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 people to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people. The rate was about four times higher among men than among women in 2013.”
A main reason for the dramatic resurgence in heroin use has been the increasing use of prescription painkillers in the United States. In the same article, Sifferlin mentions a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) which states the following:
“The number of people who used a painkiller stronger than morphine increased from 17% to 37% from the early 2000s to about a decade later. People who are hooked on painkillers may make the switch to heroin since it’s cheaper and doesn’t need a prescription.”
What is Being Done?
As stated in the beginning of the article, lawmakers have been feverishly scrambling to come up with ways to make a dent in this country’s growing prescription pill and heroin epidemic. There have been some inroads made in order to stem the tide.
In regards to prescriptions drugs, many states have prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP’s) in place. These programs collect, monitor, and analyze electronically transmitted prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies and dispensing practitioners. The data collected helps monitor possible abuse and over-prescribing of medications, as well as aids in law enforcement, addiction research and abuse prevention.
To tackle the ever-growing heroin epidemic, some states are passing acts that will aid in treatment and prevention of overdoses. For example, the Illinois State House recently passed the Heroin Crisis Act. This act enables all pharmacies to dispense naloxone and other overdose reversal medications to both drug users and their loved ones without prescription.
The Heroin Crisis Act also requires that firemen, police officers, and even school nurses carry the drug and receive the training to administer it properly. This act also requires coroners to report to the Department of Public Health all cases where drug overdoses where the primary cause of death.
Additionally, the bill would also allow for the expansion of drug courts statewide which keep users in treatment and out of the jail and prison system.
Are You Struggling With Addiction? Recovery is Possible!
If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, prescription pill addiction or an addiction to any other drug, you may feel powerlessness and overwhelmed. While addiction is a very formidable opponent, there is help and resources available to help you win your fight.
As the leading provider of addiction, treatment and recovery information on the Internet, Sober Nation can provide you the tools, knowledge and encouragement you need to meet addiction head on. We not only provide you with in-depth articles and insightful blogs, we also provide you with a comprehensive treatment directory with over 40,000 treatment providers.
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