under the age of 501
, leaving families heartbroken at the loss of a loved one. More than 174
Americans die daily from a drug overdose, and these numbers have quadrupled since 19991
disease of addiction is claiming the lives of parents and children alike, showing no discrimination
for age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Leading among drug related deaths is overdose from
opioid abuse and dependence, with 2017 alone claiming 72,0002
. This crisis has become so
significant, in fact, that it has been called by many the worst drug crisis in American history.
The US has suffered declines in life expectancy for three consecutive years directly as a
result of the mortality rate associated with this epidemic.
Among the opioid related deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
reports legally obtained opioids to be of primary concern, including and especially the opioids sold
by pharmacies and prescribed by hospitals and medical practices, where prescription opioid deaths
make up an estimated 40% of opioid
4 Opioid abuse has
justifiably been declared a National
Public Health Emergency.
Clearly then, America is
overburdened with the opioid epidemic,
costing lives, losing productivity in the
1 Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, US Department of Health and
2 The CDC Wonder Database
3 Robert R. Redfield, M.D., CDC Director, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/s1129-US-lifeexpectancy.html
work force, suffering high economic costs, straining the healthcare system, overburdened our
justice system, and stressing the social safety net. Financially, this crisis has cost America $1
trillion since 2001 and, if this rate continues, is estimated to cost the US another $500 billion by
2020.5 Opioid abuse and dependence is clearly a multi-faceted issue, impacting all levels and
layers of society, creating a seemingly irreversible struggle in our country.