Almost 70,000 lives were lost in 2016 due to drug overdoses, and those numbers are only increasing. 42,000 of those fatalities alone were directly linked to opioid overdose. It’s no secret the epidemic is worsening and has even been declared a national emergency. The fatalities come in, above deaths from breast cancer which is 2016 was 41,000. The Increase in drug overdoses has been mainly linked to access to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and tramadol, but still takes into account prescription and street opioids. Since 2013, the rate of opioid overdose has doubled and is projected to reach close to 90,000 in 2020 if the pattern continues. Number One Killer? It’s not just cancer that opioids are coming in ahead of, but car accidents and guns, too. The facts and numbers are there, and yet we still witness a lack of preventative measures being taken. Driving on the highway there are signs to be safe and sober. Anti-gun campaigns are all over the country- and yet those struggling with addiction seem to only receive the support they need when it’s near too late. Gary Mandell, founder, and CEO of the Shatterproof Advocacy Group stated, “I know from my own painful experience that behind every death there are countless family members and loved ones whose lives are forever shattered. This data only increases the urgent need for real federal and state action that will save lives. States like West Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are among the hardest areas hit by the epidemic. Nationwide, 22 states had fatalities recorded to be higher than the national average in 2017. The Synthetic opioids have increased death tolls and overdose by 88%. Why Does Cancer Receive More Publicity? With the release of this alarming new information- Opioids need to be dealt with in the same manner breast cancer or any other fatal illness is. From preventing, to fundraising, to treating: this epidemic needs attention. Even though Trump declared it a national health emergency last year- advocates have made it clear that the government is doing very little to present any sort of solution or plan of action. “I’m not prone to dramatic statements,” Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, told NPR. “But I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it.” The last time the life expectancy in the U.S. dropped was in 1993, because of the AIDS epidemic. The rate hasn’t fallen for two consecutive years in the U.S. since the 1960s. Each year, Breast Cancer foundations and fundraisers bring in close to 600 million dollars that are then spread out between treatment, aftercare, technology, and equipment. Opioids, although starting to gain more attention, only bring in about 28 million. That not even close to comparable. There have been arguments that drug treatment options such as medicated assistance have the potential of backfiring when going into the wrong hands, but advocates say that’s just not the case. The real problem lies in the fact that a lot of people struggling with addiction don’t have the means to afford the treatment options that are available”, and fundraising could potentially give and treat close to 40,000 people if it were being treated as seriously as breast cancer. Looking Ahead The comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, which was signed into law last year, says that “more federal help is needed to develop and expand existing services so that low threshold treatments are available to anyone with opioid use disorder seeking treatment, regardless of their ability to pay”. Some other suggestions include research on new packaging that would prevent misuse, new databases for patient care and monitoring, restriction on prescriptions, expansion of treatment centers, and even nationwide opioid service centers located within all major healthcare facilities. If drug addiction is to be fought, it must be treated on an equal level as other major fatality causing issues. If the stigma were dropped and the truth brought into the light instead of pushed under the rug, this crisis has the potential of no longer being such an imminent threat. Recovering At Wayside Wayside offers effective treatment options for anyone struggling to overcome addiction. For years, our medically trained professionals have given health and happiness back to people from all walks of life who were dealing with the effects of substance abuse. If you or someone you love is ready to get their life back on track – call Wayside today to find out more about our treatment programs. Sobriety is achievable with Wayside.