The Magnitude of the Problem

The size of the problem is rapidly increasing and there is not many signs of it slowing down

Realizing the magnitude of addiction and how it has become a problem is important to fix our society. Created by: Brianna Morrell

How Many Have to Die?

Substance abuse disorder and addiction knows no bounds. Most of us are able to name at least one person, whether it is a family member, a friend or an acquaintance, that has or is struggling with the disease of addiction. Addiction is “a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. In order to combat the issue, funding is needed to allocate resources to the services that provide prevention and treatment services.

I think that the state legislatures and congress are more engaged than they have ever been before because of the expanse of the problem because of the depth of the problem and they realize that they have to commit resources if in fact they are going to overcome this,” Tom Carr, head of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, in Washington/Baltimore said.

Funding has been something that wasn’t easy to come by for abuse disorder and addiction as it has to compete with other diseases and mental health conditions for it.

“I don’t think people understand that drug addiction is a brain disease as described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse,” assistant professor of pharmacology and Center for Substance Abuse Research at Temple University, Dr. Rawls said.

Illicit drugs alone are estimated to cost $193 billion annually. Add tobacco and alcohol to the equation and the total cost between crime, healthcare, and lost work productivity amounts up to around $700 billion.

“And if you look at statistics, anywhere from about $750 billion to a trillion dollars a year in costs are really directly and indirectly related to drug abuse,” Rawls said. “For example, costs in medications, costs in hospital stays, costs in lost time work and the cost in criminalities, so again drug addiction I think doesn’t get as much of attention as cancer and cardiovascular diseases for two reasons: one, people don’t realize how much it actually costs to society and two, they don’t always realize that it is a brain disease that in combination with the environment can really cause people to use these drugs and increase their vulnerability and development to addiction.”

In total, from 2014 to 2015, 19 different states have seen a significant uptick in overdose death rates. According to research conducted by CNN, in 2014 deadly drug overdoses overtook shooting deaths and fatal traffic accidents as the leader of accidental deaths. The magnitude of the opioid/heroin epidemic should not be understated. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

“We now have a heroin epidemic, throughout not just the county, but the whole commonwealth, and throughout the country,” David White, Councilman of Delaware County and member of its Heroin Task Force said.  “In 2011, we had 61 deaths, due to heroin or opioids. This year we’re gonna have 122 deaths already, and we still have another 3 weeks left in the year. So the deaths have risen, that’s double from 2011. The CDC (Center for Disease Control), states there around 89 people a day, will die from heroin and substance abuse. That’s just a number that’s staggering. So it’s affecting all parts of our society, and we’re losing our young people, we’re losing our educated, older people, it just is at epidemic proportion, throughout our country.”

Written by: Keith Brown

Over a hundred people per day in the United States die from drug overdoses. Created by: Brianna Morrell