A national survey shows that 142 Americans are dying each day from opioid abuse, MBSBC reported Tuesday.
NBC medical correspondent Dr. John Torres presented a play-by-play of the numbers from the 2015 survey, showing that 91.8 million people used prescription opioids, 11.5 misused them (didn’t take as directed or shared with someone else) and 1.9 million became physically and mentally addicted.
Statistics on opioid abuse can take time to quantify and collate, and despite not yet having numbers from 2016, Torres said he believes the addiction and abuse rate are unlikely to have dropped.
Axios founder Jonathan Swan lamented the collapse of the Senate health care bill that included $145 billion to fund treatment centers and drug programs for Methadone and Suboxone. Suboxone is a relatively new drug containing trace amounts of opioids, used to help wean patients off painkillers without the discomfort of withdrawal. It’s nearly impossible to to achieve a buzz or high from Suboxone, as it is specifically designed to discourage abuse.
Evidence shows that opioid abuse is plummeting in states that enact medical marijuana legislation. By offering patients an alternative pain reliever and stress reducer, the need for painkillers is diminished. Marijuana is also less addictive and has fewer side effects than many other drugs.
The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff said that new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has a personal connection to the opioid crisis, due to his experiences in his hometown growing up. Kelly’s elevation to power may bring the issue to the spotlight in the coming months.
Proposed reforms include harsher sentences for those who traffic in prescription drugs, along with funneling more money towards counseling and Suboxone treatment centers.
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