Heroin overdoses outnumber the number of gun homicides. Addiction is a disease that has been devastating to families and loved ones across the US. In October 2017, I lost my dad, my best friend, my everything to the disease. Spreading awareness is as important as realizing none of us has the right answers. The following statistics raise huge issues that are debated frequently. The following information is not based on my opinion.
There was a lack of statistics for the year 2017, most likely because of the time it takes to gather the information, however, I tried my best to get the most recent and most accurate information.
If you have more information please share. In honour of my dad and the battles he faced and to those who will face similar challenges in the year 2018.
The Statistics: Opioid Overdoses In 2017
As shown below the issue of opioid addiction is at it’s highest in the United States.
According to the CDC, the 12 Month-ending Provisional Counts of Drug Overdose Deaths, Percent Change Over Previous 12-month Period, and Data Quality Metric shows that 66,324 people died of an overdose in 2017 by May.
An important note at the bottom: “Deaths are classified by the reporting jurisdiction in which the death occurred.” This number could be unreliable due to the number of deaths that are not initially determined as an overdose.
Due to the lengthy process of investigating the cause of death for an overdose, deaths are ruled as “no cause of death”.
66,324 people is a tragedy nonetheless. That is almost the equivalent number of people Gilette Stadium can hold with 66,829 seats.
The data from the CDC has the percentage of change from 2016’s overdose deaths. Let’s break it down by the state who has seen reduced numbers of overdose deaths.
Important questions are answered here in this article by Josh Katz on short answers to hard questions about opioid addiction.
Top US States that Have Reduced Overdoses in 2017 from 2016:
- Rhode Island
What’s interesting is most of these states, besides California, have under 500 overdoses. There are a few states that have a very steep increase in overdoses. Let’s take a look at those.
Top US States that Have had an Increase in Overdoses in 2017 from 2016:
- Delaware 44% increase
- Washington DC 78% increase
- Maryland 43% increase
- New Jersey 31% increase
- Ohio 41% increase
- Pennsylvania 44% increase
Number of Nonfatal Overdoses in 2017
There is very limited information on the number of overdoses in 2017 that don’t result in death but an article published by NPR in August 2017 claims, “for every fatal overdose, there are believed to be roughly 30 nonfatal overdoses.”
If this is true this would mean the number of nonfatal overdoses is 1.9 million in 2017 roughly speaking. Just in Massachusetts alone “Nonfatal overdoses recorded by emergency medical services (EMS), hospitals, and bystander interventions increased [about] 200% between 2011 and 2015.
The total number of nonfatal overdoses between 2011 and 2015 exceeded 65,000.” which you can the full legislature report here. We can suspect that in the past two years that number has grown. We also have to assume that with how easily accessible Narcan is now in the community that this number may be even double.
What is Narcan?
Narcan is one form of Naloxone and the most recognized. There are three FDA-approved formulations of naloxone. One is Narcan, a nasal spray, one is an injectable, and one is Evsio an auto-injectable.
The injectable is least popular but all three have the same effect: They bring a human who has overdosed back to life. “81.6 percent of reported naloxone reversals involved heroin. Prescription opioids were involved in 14.1 percent of cases” (addictioncenter.com). If you’d like to learn more about how much Narcan to use, how Narcan works, and what happens when you use Narcan, visit NCADA for a full list of FAQ.
Dailymail posted a video of a woman coming back to life with Naloxone. If you can make it through the video, you’ll recognize her friends bring her back to life with an injectable. As she comes back to life her friend says, “You went out.”
Where is Narcan Available?
In 2015, Narcan saved approximately 27,000 lives. Naloxone is available without a prescription in 41 states. You can pick up Naloxone at a local CVS except for the states listed below. Depending on your locations, you can sign up for training to learn how to use Naloxone. In Boston, The Boston Public Health Commision holds free In-house overdose prevention and naloxone training Monday afternoons and Tuesday evenings on specific days in 2018.
You can go through the opioid overdose interactive prevention, recognition and response for additional personal education.
States you need a prescription for Naloxone:
In April 2017, a strain of Fentanyl that was Narcan-resistant hit Western Pennsylvania along with Georgia, Indiana, and more. This strain is considered, “50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine,” according to vice.com.
Hospital Protocol on Opioid-related Visits
The number of hospital visits due to opioid-related inpatient stays and emergency room visits is not provided for the year 2017. The latest data is from 2014 from the Homeland Security Department which states, 1.3 million patients needed hospital care due to opioids.
Good Samaritan Law for addiction
As stated by the NCSL, a Samaritan who calls 911 due to an overdose, will be provided immunity from arrest or prosecution. “To encourage people to seek out medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered, 40 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law.
These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention. State laws are also increasingly providing immunity from violations of pretrial, probation or parole conditions and violations of protection or restraining orders.”
The Lack of Follow Up in Hospitals is being acknowledged in Massachusetts and Other States
NPR article states we could be doing more for patients that come in with an opioid addiction. “Donohue says many hospital emergency departments are not adequately set up to serve or even screen patients with addiction. ‘They may not have strong connections to treatment providers. So they, at best, may leave patients with a list, but then there is no active follow-up,’ Donohue says. ‘People who are quite vulnerable and are at great risk for future overdoses are falling through the cracks.’
If a patient is revived and asks to leave the same day as their overdose they are allowed to check themselves out. “It’s safe to characterize it as a missed opportunity for the health system to respond.”
Massachusetts Governor Baker has recently passed legislation to help assist in the lack of medical follow up. “It requires hospitals to engage patients to connect them to voluntary treatment and requires doctors to record overdoses and evaluations in a patient’s electronic medical records.” Read more about Governor Bakers Opioid Plan here.
As you can read here from USA Today, families are seeking involuntary commitment laws to help the fight with addiction. There is still legislation that finds it difficult to move forward due to civil rights concerns. Others find that it is not a solution and won’t contribute to change in behaviour or relapse.
On the contrary, people believe, ” it’s a vital, last-resort option at a time when the opioid crisis is killing more than 90 Americans every day.”
Currently, if a family member you know is in the hospital due to drug overdose and you call to get your loved one help, you are advised to order a section 35.
2.4 million addicted people seek treatment through specialized rehab centers every year.
According to NPR, In Massachusetts, courts civilly committed more than 6,500 people to treatment last year. Massachusetts Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Fallon estimates that 40 percent of those civilly committed to the center will be court-ordered to treatment again but believes a correctional setting makes sense (npr.org).
Recently Google has taken the initiative to disable the ability to advertise for rehabilitation companies as many were misleading. “Addiction recovery during the worst drug epidemic in American history is expected to generate $42 billion in business by 2020.”
“Insurers are required to cover substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act, and some stays can cost up to $60,000 a month, making every patient extremely lucrative. And the majority of addicts or their parents — 61 percent, according to Google’s internal statistics — use the internet to find help.”
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation
- 28 days to six months
- Residential treatment programs
- Family members can contact loved ones in residential treatment. Each facility is different for visitation rights
- A typical day in residential treatment is carefully scheduled and accounted for
- 10 to 12 hours a week – The average outpatient detox period lasts 6.5 days
- Part-time programs
- Recovering patient can go to work or school during the day
- Sessions focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling, and teaching addicted people how to cope without their drug
Prison Sentences Due to Drug Addiction
Substance abuse is a large part of correctional facilities and the NCADD reported that crimes are typically found to have a correlation to drug use.
“Approximately 95% of inmates return to alcohol and drug use after release from prison, and 60 – 80% of drug abusers commit a new crime (typically a drug-driven crime) after release from prison” (NCADD).
- 80% of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
- Nearly 50% of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.
- Approximately 60% of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest.
Opioid Addiction in 2018
What can we expect in 2018? I am optimistic. I believe there are different ways to look at addiction. I look forward to sharing my dad’s letters he sent to me while in prison due to addiction. While I wrote this blog post with the purpose of sharing statistics, addicts are not just statistics, they’re not just people that have a disease. They’re the faces of our parents, our children- the people we love and the people who need our support. I created Rising Hope as an initiative to give a face to what some people have trouble understanding.