An Opioid addiction case study

Hundreds of people in the United States are dying due to opioid overdoses, and sales in the US


Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are usually harmless when taken for a short time under any prescribed doctor, but as they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misconducted (occupied in a different way or in a higher quantity than prescribed or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Consistent use as prescribed by a doctor can lead to dependence, but when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and even deaths.

Opioids become hazardous for the people in the United States, as every day the number of consuming opioids in a different way or in a greater quantity than prescribed or taken without a doctor’s consent is increasing. More people are getting addicted towards opioids, and as a result of every day, hundreds of people in the United States are dying due to opioid overdoses. Drug overdoses become the prime cause of death for Americans under the age of 50; people in the United States are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than from car accidents or firearms. Currently, The United States has the highest percentage of drug-related deaths in the world. Drug death has increased among all age groups since 1999, but it is now highest between those ages of 25 to 54.

Since the 1990s, the volume of prescribed opioids began to grow and as a result of the number of overdoses and deaths from prescribed opioids also increased. However, the volume of prescribed opioids has increased, but the amount of pain reported by the Americans did not decrease. From 1999 to 2017, almost 218,000 people died in the United States due to overdoses of prescribed opioids. Overdose deaths including prescribed opioids were five times higher in 2017 than in 1999.

Infograph on Opioid Overdose death rate in the USA

From 2012

In the year 2012, more than 22,000 people died due to opioid overdoses. During the year 2013, nearly 25,000 people lost their lives because of having opioid overdoses, which was higher than the previous year. However, in the year 2014, more than 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses, which was also higher than the previous year. In 2015, more than 33,000 people died because of having opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Till the year of 2015, the number of people died due to opioid overdoses was increasing at a decreasing rate but from the year 2016, the numbers went much higher, and people were diverted more towards excessive consumption of opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42,000 thousand individuals died due to opioid overdoses in 2016, a 30% increase from the year before. Synthetic opioid overdoses killed 20,000 of the United States people. Opioid overdose deaths are so frequent that they have driven down U.S. life expectancy. During 2017, more than 47,600 thousand individuals died from opioid overdoses which are higher than the previous year. According to the CDC, more than 72,000 individuals died due to drug overdoses, and among them, 47,600 people died from opioid overdoses. Statistics show that in every two minutes someone in America died from an opioid overdose. Most of the increase in opioid overdoses was because of the growth in illicit synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as fentanyl and tramadol. The rate of overdose deaths involving these synthetic opioids doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 3.1 per 100,000 in 2015 to 6.2 per 100,000, according to the CDC. Every year since 2013, the rate of deadly overdoses from synthetic opioids other than methadone has increased by an average of 88%. Heroin, an illegal opioid, claimed more than 15,000 lives in 2016, compared to nearly 13,000 in 2015. The death rate due to opioid overdoses is increasing day by day which becomes a great concern for the United States government.

The cost and sales

This Statistic portrays the annual number of opioid prescriptions in the United States from 2014 to 2017, where it is noticed that the number of prescribed opioids is decreasing on a yearly basis. During the year 2017, there were around 191 million prescriptions filled for opioids among patients in the United States compared with around 214 million in 2016.

From the year 2016 to 2018, around $800 million worth of fentanyl pills were illegally sold online to the United States by Chinese suppliers. The drug is typically manufactured in China, after that shipped to Mexico where it is administered and packaged, which is then smuggled into the United States through drug cartels. A vast volume is also bought online and shipped over the U.S. Postal Service. It can also be acquired directly from China, which has developed a major manufacturer of numerous synthetic drugs illegal in the United States.

In 2016, a study projected that the cost of prescription opioid overdoses, abuse, and dependence in the United States in 2013 was around $78.5 billion, most of which was recognized to health care and criminal justice expenditure, besides with lost productivity. However, in two years, statistics show expressively higher estimates because the epidemic has degraded with overdose and with deaths doubling in the past decade. The White House informed on November 20, 2017, that in 2015 alone the opioid epidemic cost the United States an estimated $504 billion.

The amount of opioid treatment may vary due to various factors, but the price of treatment can range from $6,000 to $15,000 a year. Most addicts derive from lagging economic environment which numerous addicts do not have the support or money to complete alternative medication for the addictions.

In 2017, a bunch of fentanyl overdoses in Florida was found to be caused by street sales of fentanyl pills sold as Xanax. According to the DEA, one kilogram (2.2 lb) of fentanyl can be purchased in China for $3,000 to $5,000 and then smuggled into the United States by mail or Mexican drug dealers to produce over $1.5 million in revenue. The profitability of this drug has directed dealers to adulterate other drugs with fentanyl without the information of the drug user.

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