Causes and Responses to the Opioid Epidemic: A Policy Analysis
The opioid epidemic has become one of the largest public health crises of our time. The most important and devastating element of this crisis is the number of fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose on a daily basis. Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that between 1999 and 2017 there have been more than 400,000 deaths attributed to an opioid overdose. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids in 2018 alone. This number does not include the number of people using heroin in the U.S. In 2016 roughly 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year. About 170,000 Americans reported first time heroin use in 2016. Compare this number to the 90,000 first time users in 2006 and it becomes clear how significant the rise in heroin use is. There is now a rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancies. This means that the opioid epidemics impact will continue to be felt for generations to come. It is imperative that interventions are developed now to reduce this ripple effect and eventually end this decades-long problem.
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