Opioid Epidemic in the U.S. on the Rise

According to the latest Pew Research study, nearly half of all Americans have a family member or close friend struggling with a Substance Use Disorder, or SUD. Addiction strikes hard, and it is blind to race, age, or political affiliation. Among every demographic, death by overdose is on the rise, affecting over 7.4 million Americans, with the opioid epidemic at the center of it all.

The facts:

  • Heroin-related overdose deaths have increased by 600% from 2002 to 2015.
  • Of 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016:
    • Over 20,000 were caused by synthetic opioids.
    • Over 15,000 were related to heroin.
    • Over 14,000 were related to natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as hydrocodone and buprenorphine)
  • Drug abuse and SUDs are estimated to cost society $442 billion annually.

While the causes of this massive opioid epidemic are complex, the solutions are clear. According to the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, the most effective interventions are carried out on a community level. Cross-sector community coalitions can assess and respond to specific local needs. Additionally, the report calls for integration of a full spectrum of treatment modalities to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the years to come.

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