In late 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing a 21% increase in drug overdose deaths in 2016. It also revealed that for every 100,000 millennials, 35 died of an overdose. This is nearly a 50% increase from the 23 out of 100,000 recorded in 2014.
The alarming increase in drug overdose deaths, especially for millennials, is linked to the ongoing opioid epidemic. The epidemic has become so severe that even President Donald Trump has declared it a public health emergency. Out of the 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, 42,249 were linked to opioids, most of them from the 25 to 34 years old bracket.
Opioids are substances that alleviate pain. Some of the examples listed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse are prescription pain relievers, heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and many others.
According to a group of experts in the Taking Action to Address the Opioid Crisis panel, most people become addicted after taking opioids prescribed by doctors and dentists to treat pain.
Opioids, like oxycodone and morphine, are legal, effective and safe when consumed appropriately and in the right dosage. However, with 17% of patients being prescribed with an opioid, more hospitals are now trying to find alternatives for acute pain relief.
Rehabilitation is one of the ways to overcome addiction. In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, one of the guidelines to effective rehabilitation is to “avoid withdrawal management alone without transition to long-term treatment to reduce the risk of relapse and death.”
More rehabilitation centers are beginning to recognize this strategy and surround its patients through group therapy. Acqua Recovery agrees, suggesting that first class-treatment for addiction includes a safe space and support for patients battling their addiction with others.
However, finding affordable rehabilitation is difficult, especially for millennials. In 2016, 93% of millennials could not receive the substance misuse treatment they needed because they could not afford it.
The rise of opioids is a dangerous epidemic. Governments should look into measures that help prevent any more opioid overdoses. Meanwhile, families, friends, and relatives of known addicts should consider having their loved one sent to rehabilitation.