The opioid epidemic, which is presently turning a huge chunk of the United States population into drug addicts, killed more people last year than the 19-year Vietnam War, a new report shows.
The latest statics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than 64,000 people died last year as a result of an overdose on opioid drugs. The data shows that the nation is currently experiencing a 21 percent increase in drug-related deaths, most of which are due to the abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers.
Using this federal data, the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent research firm dedicated to looking into “critical issues in policing,” attempted to put the severity of the situation into context. It showed how opioids are contributing to more deaths across the nation than the Vietnam War, motor vehicle accidents, AIDS and even murder.
By The Numbers: Opioids Are Killing More People Than the Vietnam War
As frightening as it may sound, the Vietnam War, which carried on for nearly two decades, claimed the lives of 58,200 people.
But in 2016 alone, the lust for the feel goods associated with the consumption of opioids snuffed out 64,070 people—around 190 each day. This is unnerving, consideration that the mega-increase in opioid-related deaths is expected to continue spiraling out of control, becoming much more deadly in the years to come.
The report goes on to show how the opioid problem is more of a public safety issue than anything related to highway travel.
In 2015, there were 35,092 deaths resulting from car accidents. That’s right, it is actually safer to travel along the great American landscape next to a legion of bad drivers than it is to take medication designed to knock out pain.
Even at the height of the AIDS crisis back in 1995, which resulted in the deaths of 50,628 people, this horrible disease was no match for the grim reaper with oxycodone in his pocket.
In fact, drug addiction, specifically the grips of opioids, has the sharpest scythe—cutting down more Americans than the peak murder season of 1991, which claimed 24,703 lives, and even more than when suicide hit a high note in 2015, leaving 44,193 dead.
Only 15,466 opioid deaths last year were due to heroin, according to the CDC’s latest statistics. The rest were all medications doled out to the American people by their friendly neighborhood physician.
A Hell-Bent Path to Destruction
Sadly, the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
The report shows that the United States has been on a hell-bent path to destruction by opioids since the 1980s. But not much was ever done to prevent the problem from becoming a violent entity capable of out-killing some of the leading causes of death the nation has ever experienced.
“So it is clear that police and other criminal justice agencies, along with public health departments, drug treatment and social service providers, elected officials, and others, must step up their efforts to prevent new cases of opioid addiction, while helping addicted persons through the long and difficult process of getting free of opioid drugs,” the PERF report reads.
Sadly, even if more treatment options are made available, there is evidence to suggest that people jammed up by opioid addiction may never be able to lead normal lives—or get sober.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said earlier this year that almost 70 percent of those treated for opioid addiction would fail at recovery. There is no “cure” for addiction, according to Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, which means those “people with substance use disorders have a lifelong vulnerability” to the disease.
Is Marijuana A Cure For The Opioid Crisis?
Meanwhile, in Colorado, there is evidence that legal marijuana is helping the state reduce the number of opioid-related deaths.
Research published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Public Health shows the state has encountered a six percent drop in opioid deaths since the state legalized marijuana back in 2014. The study suggests that nationwide legalization could provide a solution.
“Legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths,” the study concludes. “As additional data become available, research should replicate these analyses in other states with legal recreational cannabis.”