The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has released their annual National Drug Threat Assessment which paints a picture of substance abuse throughout the country. The yearly assessment can give experts an idea of where they should focus their education and prevention efforts in the coming year. As you probably can imagine, the most troubling findings are related to opioid use disorders and the rise of heroin and synthetic opioid use.
Over a hundred Americans can, and do, lose their life on any given day of the week, the result of an opioid overdose. Prescription opioids and heroin on their own are deadly narcotics that can lead to an overdose death, a serious concern. However, the increasing prevalence of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, being mixed into heroin batches or pressed into pills to look like OxyContin tablets, is perhaps the most troubling.
While the Northeast and Appalachian regions of the United States have been most notably deviated by the opioid epidemic, the South has not been spared either. Florida had more overdose deaths in 2015 than any other time in more than a decade, The Orlando Sentinel reports, the highest number of opioid deaths in more than a decade. There were 67 fentanyl and 105 heroin overdose deaths in Orange and Osceola counties.
The National Drug Threat Assessment pulls survey data from almost 1,500 law enforcement agencies throughout the country, according to the article. Interestingly, while heroin and fentanyl concerns Florida law enforcement officials, data from over 40 percent of Florida law enforcement agencies topped their list of biggest threats with methamphetamine and marijuana.
“Any drug that can cause devastation to your city no matter if it’s marijuana, crack cocaine, cocaine opiates, heroin fentanyl — they’re all a concern,” said Orlando Police Department Deputy Chief Robert Anzueto. “And our job is to prevent and educate and eradicate.”
If you would like read the full DEA report, please click here.
The findings of the National Drug Threat Assessment are alarming, but they are consistent with recent years past. The report highlights the need for expanding access to both mental health and addiction treatment services across the country. It is a well-known fact that we can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic. If you or a loved one is in the grips of opioid addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services. Our program is specifically tailored to treat opioid use disorder, merging traditional counseling with alternative medicine.
In the United States, we are responsible for using the world’s market share of prescription opioid. It would be one thing if our country had a population that compared to China or India, but the 2016 estimated population of the United States is 322,762,018 (roughly 5 percent of the world population) according to an end-of-year estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau. While efforts continue to limit the number of prescriptions written for painkillers, as well as the size and number of refills, the U.S. is just as dependent as ever upon opioids.
It is a double edged sword that has resulted in the worst drug epidemic in history. On the one hand, people need adequate pain management, and the other hand pain medications are both addictive and deadly. Yet, seemingly with caution to the wind prescription opioids continue to be both manufactured and prescribed in excess in the United States. The most common prescription opioids used and abused include:
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Vicodin (hydrocodone)
Curbing Painkiller Production
Over the last several years, there have been calls to curtail the amount of prescription painkillers produced every year. And, as you might have imagined, pharmaceutical companies have done their best to prevent production restrictions. However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has placed new mandates on the amount of prescription opioids that can be produced, HealthDay reports. The DEA says that we should see a 25 percent decrease at least in 2017. Through production limitations, hopefully it will result in fewer of such drugs ending up in the wrong hands.
Just to give you an idea of how often prescription opioids are diverted to people without prescriptions, data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 6.5 million Americans older than 12 had used an opioid without a prescription in the last month, according to the article. Such high pill diversion rates are likely the result of doctors writing prescriptions for more of a drug than a patient requires.. Several government agencies, including the DEA, have called upon doctors to change their prescribing practices.
“For years, DEA and others have been educating practitioners, pharmacists, manufacturers, and the public about the potential dangers of the misuse of opioid medications,” the DEA said.
Opioid Addiction Recovery
It is widely agreed upon that the best weapon for fighting the opioid epidemic is addiction treatment services. They could outlaw prescription opioids tomorrow, and opioid addicts would still find a way to maintain their habit—by way of heroin. Treatment can break the cycle of addiction and give millions of Americans a fighting chance at recovery. Please contact Synergy Group Services today, to begin the journey of recovery.