Drug addiction is no longer confined to certain stereotypes. Research related to America’s twenty-first century opioid epidemic suggests that those suffering could be your neighbor, cousin, or best friend. In fact, addiction to opioids, a leading substance linked to death by drug overdose, is considered an equal opportunity health problem that can afflict people from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life.
Various factors have led to an overall increase in drug use in the United States. Some state laws have made recreational marijuana, still statistically demonstrating as the “gateway” drug, more accessible. At the same time, until very recently, a practice of over-prescribing and over dispensing opioids for patients experiencing moderate to severe pain was on the rise. In 2017, nearly 58% of Americans were prescribed opioids. Of those who got their prescription filled, 29% misused them. It is no surprise then that in terms of illicit drug use, misuse of prescribed opioids is second only to marijuana.
As the access to drugs has increased, so have the rates of addiction and death by overdose. In 1999, 16,489 people died by drug overdose, while by 2017 the number more than quadrupled, rising to 70,237. To help put this into perspective according to a CBS news story, in 2016 more Americans died from overdosing on opioids than all Americans killed in the “entirety of the Vietnam War, which totaled 58,200.” In 2017, the opioid epidemic yielded an average of 130 deaths daily.
The 2018 Congressional investigation into the opioid epidemic used West Virginia as a case study since the highest number of opioid-related deaths occurred there. This may suggest that the problem correlates to certain areas, but the research also shows the number of opioids prescribed per person varies widely among U.S. counties. In general, higher opioid prescribing tends to happen in small cities or large towns with a high percentage of white residents. It also occurs where there are more dentists and primary care physicians, where more people are uninsured or unemployed, and where more people have diabetes, arthritis, or disability.
Finally, while certain populations may appear more susceptible to drug abuse disorder than others, like those with low income and those lacking a college education, all populations are increasingly vulnerable. A 2015 SAMHSA report shows nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers varies by race and ethnicity, with Whites at 4.3%, Blacks at 3.6%, and Hispanics at 4.5%. And while illicit drug use, in general, remains highest among people in their late teens and twenties, misuse of prescription opioids among those in their fifties and early sixties is on the rise. Women are also becoming increasingly susceptible, as the number of women with opioid use disorder at labor and delivery quadrupled from 1999-2014.
The bottom line is, substance abuse disorder can affect anyone, regardless of how much money a person makes, where they come from, or what they look like. Now that you know the truth about the face of addiction, learn the truth about addiction rehab to find out what works best. Download this eBook to find out more and get help.