The drug epidemic has been a major concern for decades in the United States, but recently, with an increase of individuals becoming addicted to opioids and heroin, more people are at risk and the medical industry is doing everything it can to combat these fatalities.
Across the entire U.S., the number one cause of accidental death is attributed to drug overdoses. In 2015 alone, there were 52,404 lethal drug overdoses, with the largest contributor being opioid addiction. About 20,101 deaths were related to prescription pain killers in 2015 and 12,990 overdose deaths were directly related to heroin.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees death statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Certainly not in modern times.”
Stat reports that eight of the 10 leading causes of death rose last year, resulting in the country’s life expectancy rate to decrease for the first time in more than 20 years.
Sadly, as AOL News reports, over the course of modern American history, more people have died from misusing and using drugs than motor vehicle accidents, diseases, and even wars.
Over the last two decades, the majority of common death causes in the U.S. have fluctuated experiencing ebbs and flows throughout the years. The one cause of death that has stayed on track, increasing each and every year, is fatalities caused by drug overdoses.
Better medication, more research, increased care, and innovate technology will be needed to continue the fight against addiction and help those struggling before it’s too late. To combat the skyrocketing rates of drug deaths, the United States will need more physicians and healthcare providers who specialize in addiction treatment.
Yet in 2015 The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) reported that there were only about 3,000 board certified physicians practicing addiction medicine. That means there is only one addiction doctor for every 8,333 addicts.
Many physicians are reluctant to treat patients with addiction problems, as they can be difficult to treat. Yet to achieve sustained recovery, recovering addicts need an ongoing treatment plan. Fortunately, something as simple as text message appointment reminders have been found to solicit successful contact rates of 97% or more.
Because of all these drug issues in the U.S., more and more patients are in need of immediate medical attention, causing stress on the entire medical industry. According to data from the American Health Care Association, there are currently 15,655 skilled medical nursing care facilities in the United States. Many of these facilities could soon lend a hand in the ongoing fight against opioid and heroin addiction.
Whatever needs to be done to combat these addiction issues must be done as soon as possible. Remarkably, DrugAbuse.com recently reported that between 1999 and 2005, more Americans died from substance abuse-related deaths than the number of Americans who died in WWI and WWII combined.
Not only that, but more Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than died during the entirety of the Vietnam War.