Opioid crisis taking toll on Americans

How bad is the opiod crisis in America?

This is how bad: Opioids is now killing more people than breast cancer.

According to a new report, more than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose in 2016, the most lethal year yet of the drug overdose epidemic.

Most of those deaths involved opioids, a group of painkillers including illicit heroin and fentanyl as well as legally prescribed medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report says, in 2016 alone, 42,249 U.S. drug fatalities — 66 percent of the total — involved opioids, which is over a thousand more than the 41,070 Americans who die from breast cancer every year.

Heroin also continues to be a problem. The rate of heroin overdose deaths has increased an average of 19 percent each year since 2014

The opioid crisis is taking on Americans.

The increases in opioid related deaths have contributed to a shortening of the U.S. life expectancy for a second year in a row.

The jump in opioid-related death is a nationwide problem but it’s particularly bad in West Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire, which has overdose rates significantly higher than the national average. The rate of overdose in West Virginia was more than twice the national average of 19.8 overdose deaths for every 100,000 people.

Overdose rates increased in all age groups but were worse for those between the ages of 25 and 54.

Unfortunately there are little signs of the epidemic abating.

“Based on what we’re seeing, it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

But there are some answers and lawmakers need to look what is working to help address the epidemic.

Addiction specialist Dr. Andrew Kolodny said even though deaths are going up among people who are addicted heroin users and who use black-market opioids, it’s possible that more people are being prevented from becoming addicted through better prescribing.

Another positive sign is found in recent surveys that indicate that opioids were being less frequently abused by teens, said Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.

President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” he said. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction issued a report with more than 50 recommendations to help solve the opioid crisis, including expanding medicated assisted treatment, increasing the number of drug courts, coordinating electronic health records and increasing prescriber education.

However Trump’s declaration of a public health emergency and the commission’s recommendation were not accompanied by funds.

If this epidemic is going to be seriously addressed additional funding will be needed.