Opioid addiction in America, and particularly in Ohio, has come to the forefront in national media in the last year. Awareness of the opioid epidemic has been a major focus within the government, and in many rural areas in Ohio, opioid addiction has hit a tipping point. The sad, but real truth is that the biggest culprit of this burgeoning national crisis comes from within the walls of the pharmaceutical companies. These companies are producing large quantities of prescription opioids that have now become the leading cause of drug overdose death in America.
Below, we’ll explore some of the staggering statistics of opioid addiction throughout America.

64,000 Opioid Drug Overdose Deaths in 2016

Based on CDC findings, there were over 64,000 opioid induced deaths in America in 2016. That is nearly double the 33,000 deaths caused by opioid overdose in 2015. This sharp increase in deaths is mainly a result of increased use of Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a prescription pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, but some fentanyl analogues may be as much as 10,000 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl and other pharmaceutically-prescribed drugs make up over 30% of the 64,000 overdose deaths in America.

1,000 People per Day are Treated in Emergency Rooms for Misusing Prescription Opioids

Some of the most common emergency room visits these days are from patients that overuse prescription opioids. Overdose rates are highest in Non-Hispanic white men between the ages 25 and 54 years, but the gap is closing between genders and ethnic groups rapidly. The most commonly misused prescriptions are Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®), and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

215 Million Opioid Prescriptions Written in 2016

Though the total number of prescriptions has been fairly steady from 10 years ago (216 million in 2006, peaking at 255 million in 2012), in about a quarter of the US, every person could have 1 bottle of opioids to themselves. In some counties, there was an increase of up to 7 times, with new hotspots occurring every year.

Drug Overdose is now the Leading Cause of Death for Americans Under 50

From 2015 to 2016, America saw a 19% increase in fatal drug overdoses. That number is a staggering 36% in Ohio, with nearly 4 billion opioid bills being prescribed from 2011-2014 in Ohio alone. That’s Billion with a “B”!

The Physical Therapy Remedy

The road to recovery on this epidemic is a long one. New regulations and laws are in the works to curve the staggering level of overprescribing, but it will take time to put in place. Other remedies can start with the root cause of the addiction, including alternative methods to deal with pain. Physical therapists work hard to educate patients and physicians on the benefits of prescribing physical therapy ahead of aggressive prescription opioid treatment plans. Physical therapy is widely considered a preferred treatment for acute and chronic pain, but is often a secondary alternative to opioid treatments.

Before you agree to a prescription for opioids, ask if physical therapy might be right for you. Watch the video below to see how these physical therapists deal with the opioid issue in their practice.

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