9 (More) Things You Should Know About the Opioid Epidemic

The Gospel Coalition | 3/17/2018 | Staff
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On Monday, President Trump is expected to release his administration’s plan for dealing with opioid-related overdoses and deaths. Since writing about the issue two years ago (see: 9 Things You Should Know About the Opioid Epidemic), the crisis has worsened and the need for public awareness has increased. Here then are nine more things you should know about the opioid epidemic:

1. The U.S. government may have been significantly undercounting opioid overdose deaths, according to a recent study published in the journal Addiction. For example, the official figure released by the Centers for Disease Control found that 33,091 drug deaths involved opioids in 2015. The study, though, found that to be an undercount, with the actual number being approximately 39,999 and that corrected counts and rates of any opioid and heroin/synthetic opioid-involved drug deaths being 20–35 percent higher in every year than reported figures.

National - Survey - Drug - Use - Health

2. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2016 an estimated 11.8 million people misused opioids in the past year, including 11.5 million pain reliever misusers and 948,000 heroin users.

3. The percentage of people who misuse opioids is far greater than those who are addicted to the narcotics. According to a review article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2016, the repeated administration of any opioid almost inevitably results in the development of tolerance and physical dependence but addiction will occur in only a small percentage of patients exposed to opioids. Rates of carefully diagnosed addiction have averaged less than eight percent in published studies, notes Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, whereas rates of misuse, abuse, and addiction-related aberrant behaviors have ranged from 15 to 26 percent.

Study - Journal - Lancet - Support - Theory

4. A study published in 1998 in the British medical journal The Lancet found support for the theory that overdoses...
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