Prescription opioids and illicit drugs have become incredibly pervasive throughout the US, and things are only getting worse.
In the early 2000s, the FDA and CDC started to notice a steady increase in cases of opioid addiction and overdose. In 2013, they issued guidelines to curb addiction.
However, that same year – now regarded as the year the epidemic took hold – a CDC report revealed an unprecedented surge in rates of opioid addiction.
Overdose deaths are now the leading cause of death among young Americans – killing more in a year than were ever killed annually by HIV, gun violence or car crashes.
Preliminary CDC data published by the New York Times shows US drug overdose deaths surged 19 percent to at least 59,000 in 2016.
That is up from 52,404 in 2015, and double the death rate a decade ago.
It means that for the first time drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.
The data lays bare the bleak state of America’s opioid addiction crisis fueled by deadly manufactured drugs like fentanyl.
CDC data show drug overdose deaths surged 19 percent to at least 59,000 in 2016
WHAT IS DRIVING THE ADDICTION EPIDEMIC?
Lawmakers have largely blamed pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of ‘deceptive marketing’, underplaying the addictiveness of drugs, and blocking generic competition from providing low-cost alternatives.
Since 1999, sales of prescription opioids in the United States have quadrupled.
US lawmakers have tried to take steps to curb abuse of prescription drugs; in recent years the FDA has banned highly-addictive opioids in favor of drugs that proved in trials to be less addictive and harder to crush for snorting.
However, cases of addiction and overdose have continued to rise, not fall.
And a recent study found that the posted drug by Opana ER, which was branded as ‘non-addictive’, was as easy to crush and abuse as banned versions.
WHAT IS BEHIND THE RISING OVERDOSE-DEATH RATE?
Experts warn a key factor of the surge in deaths is fentanyl, which can be 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more so than morphine.
Public health advocates believe that as patients got hooked on drugs they couldn’t afford, they started seeking cheaper alternatives on the street.