Stark Facts About Opioid Misuse in the U.S.


The news about the opioid crisis faced by the United States continues its grim and downward path. As chronicled in the latest HHS report, overdose deaths in 2017 increased by almost 10% over 2016, killing more than 70,000 Americans. Nearly 70% of those deaths were due to opioid overdose, with the sharpest upsurge seen in deaths from the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

It is no secret that physical therapy is a viable alternative to these deadly drugs, and the CDC has gone so far as to recommend nondrug approaches, such as physical therapy, over long-term or high-dosage use of addictive prescription painkillers.

In the September 20th HHS news release, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, stated, “Medication-assisted treatment combined with psychosocial therapies and community-based recovery support is the gold standard for treating opioid addiction.”

As a therapy professional, here are some facts to arm yourself with in the fight against opioid addiction.

  • Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids, and additionally, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  • Roughly 21% to 29% of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • An estimated 4% to 6% of those who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • The CDC estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. amounts to $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, loss of productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice costs.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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