General

The Facts About Today’s Opioid Epidemic

January 31, 2019

Man sitting with a therapist

The opioid overdose crisis in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. President Trump even went so far as to declare this a public health emergency in October of 2017. Individuals, businesses, and healthcare providers across the country are struggling to cope with the devastating impact of the ongoing opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, the addiction crisis on Long Island is as severe as – if not worse – than anywhere else in the nation. Statistics show that Suffolk County is at the very top of all New York counties in opioid overdose-related deaths and ranks second only to Erie County in opioid addiction deaths per capita.

While there exists widespread recognition of this acute health problem, effective corrective actions are still lacking – and ugly statistics about dependency, overdoses, and drug-induced deaths continue to mount.

The Facts About the Opioid Epidemic

  • Drug poisonings, also known as overdoses, are responsible for more than 70,000 lives lost in 2017.
  • Last year, 11.1 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers.
  • Estimates suggest that up to six million people are afflicted with recurring substance use disorder.
  • Fewer than 25-percent of people afflicted with substance use disorder obtain medical care for it, which has given rise to a large “treatment gap.”
  • An average of one opioid overdose-related death is reported every week in Suffolk County.
  • Fentanyl has now surpassed heroin in this region as the most commonly detected drug for fatal opioid overdose.

The Downward Spiral

Historically, opioid analgesics have been used as pain relievers. Over the last decade, responsible medical application of opioid analgesics got badly out of hand, spiraling into today’s acute opioid epidemic situation.

Excessive prescribing and lax oversight created a situation where opioids were readily available. Amid widespread evidence of over-use, addiction, and diversion, government authorities during the last five years imposed tight limits and strict controls on prescription opioids. However, by making it harder to obtain opioid analgesics from a doctor, substance use disorder victims have turned to purchasing them illegally – even resorting to consuming street drugs, such as heroin, as substitutes. According to a 2016 report from the Center for Disease Control, 75-percent of heroin users started using that drug after having first abused prescription opioids. All of this has resulted in a downward spiral, depicted below.

What is even more troubling is how the opioid epidemic has worsened in recent years by the increased availability of fentanyl – a synthetically-manufactured opioid frequently imported from Mexico. Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than actual heroin, is highly addictive, and comparatively inexpensive.

If you or someone you love is in risk of having an opioid overdose, don’t wait until it’s too late. Let Victory Recovery Partners help. Visit our website today or call us at 631-696-HELP (4357).

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)