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opioid (Opioid epidemic) *

The Opioid Epidemic — an update


A few facts about the opioid epidemic that currently exists in the United States.  Most of the information on this page was obtained from the article in Current Reviews in Clinical Anesthesia, Lesson 13, Volume 38, by Terrence L. Trentman, MD.

  • The economic burden from opioid abuse in the United States during the year 2013 was estimated at $80 billion U.S. dollars!
  • During the calendar year 2015 in the United States, there were 52,404 drug overdose deaths.  Of these deaths, 63% involved opioids.  This equates to 91 opioid-related deaths EVERY DAY during that year.
  • About half of all the opioid-related deaths in the U.S. involve prescription narcotics.  Between 1999 and 2015, greater than 183,000 Americans died from prescription narcotic overdoses.
  • It is now estimated (2017) that 142 Americans die of narcotic overdoses every day.  Drug overdoses kill more U.S. citizens that gun homicides and automobile fatalities COMBINED!
  • The United States, as a country, is the #1 consumer of opioids in the world.
  • In 2015, there were 21 million Americans abusing illegal or prescription drugs.  Only about 10% of these people are receiving treatment for their addictions.
  • In July of 2017 alone, the Justice Department charged 412 people in America with defrauding the government via opioid-related criminal behavior.  Fifty of those 412 were physicians, and they and other health-care workers bilked the government of 1.3 billion dollars.
  • In 2017, a Florida-based drug treatment center was charged with billing over $50 million for false tests and treatments.
  • One-third of postoperative narcotic prescriptions are ultimately used for non-medical reasons (i.e. abused).

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