More than 42,000 Americans died in 2016 from opioid addiction. A new study is using data regarding opioid-driven hospitalization mortality rates to show how serious the problem has become since 1993.
Published in the December issue of Health Affairs, the study is the first nationally representative evaluation of opioid-driven mortality rates. Using data from hospitals nationwide, it concludes that hospitalization mortality for those who had overdosed on opioids rose from 0.43 percent in the period between 1993 and 2000 to 2.02 percent in 2014, an average increase of 0.12 percentage points per year.
In other words, deaths from opioid-driven hospitalizations quadrupled between 2000 and 2014, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“Initially remaining constant between 1993 and 2000, the opioid-driven mortality rate doubled to about 1 percent between 2000 and 2007. It then doubled again between 2007 and 2014, meaning that the rate of increase in the rate has also grown. Today, about 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for opioid misuse each day,” the report detailed.
In comparison, the mortality of hospitalization due to other drugs remained unchanged over the 1993-2014 time period, and the mortality rate for all other other hospitalizations actually went down.
The report further noted that while the number of admissions for opioid-related issues remained basically constant, hospitalizations for abuse declined by about 0.01 per 1,000 people per year, while hospitalizations for overdose and drug poisoning rose at the same rate.
Drug poisoning is now the leading cause of injury death in the United States.
President Donald Trump was the first public official to really bring the opioid crisis into the national spotlight, despite the fact that this epidemic has been devastating American communities for the past twenty years.
“One recent study determined that the rate of opioid abuse—approximately 13 percent of Americans over age 12 admitted to abusing opioids at some point in their lives—was in fact constant between 2003 and at least 2014,” according to the report.
Dr. Zirui Song, the study’s author, suggested some underlying reasons for the rise in mortality, including the rise in the cost of prescription drugs, which makes users turn to heroin; and the ease of access to powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In fact, fentanyl was identified as the leading culprit in overdose death in 2016.
“Until community-based effort to tackle opioid misuse have taken root, treating opioid addiction and better equipping hospitals to care for patients with increasingly severe opioid abuse may help the health care system combat the rising mortality rates of patients hospitalized for opioid use disorders,” Song wrote.
The opioid epidemic remains a serious public health issue. Most recently, the CDC determined the epidemic is largely responsible for the two-year decline in U.S. life expectancy, the first such year-on-year decline since 1962-63.