The Current State of the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid crisis is a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies. It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin. Opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain relievers are some of the most common substances at the forefront of the opioid epidemic.
The Effects of Opioid Epidemic on the United States
The consequences of opioid abuse have been devastating and are on the rise. For example, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has recently soared in the United States, more than quadrupling since 1999. There is also growing evidence to suggest a relationship between increased non-medical use of opioid analgesics and heroin addiction in the United States. In addition, the number of centers for heroin rehab in Utah as well as the rest of the US has increased.
To address the complex problem of prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction in this country, we must recognize and consider the special character of this phenomenon, for we are asked not only to confront the negative and growing impact of opioid abuse on health and mortality, but also to preserve the fundamental role played by prescription opioid pain relievers in healing and reducing human suffering. That is, scientific insight must strike the right balance between providing maximum relief from suffering while minimizing associated risks and adverse effects.