20 Percent Of Americans Have Known Someone Suffering From Opioid Addiction

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A federal survey reveals roughly 20 percent of Americans know or have known someone struggling with addiction to opioid painkillers.

The annual report on the economic well being of U.S. households by the Federal Reserve System included questions regarding exposure to opioids, a first in the history of the survey. It found at least one in five Americans personally know someone suffering with an addiction to opioids, reported The Hill.

While the study revealed that white people are roughly twice as likely to be impacted by opioid abuse, the results also showed opioid addiction does not discriminate along socioeconomic lines.

“Adults who have been personally exposed to the opioid epidemic have somewhat less favorable assessments of economic conditions than those who have not been exposed,” said researchers, according to The Hill. “However, local unemployment rates are similar in the neighborhoods where those exposed to opioids live and where those not exposed live. Altogether, this analysis suggests the need to look beyond economic conditions to understand the roots of the current opioid epidemic.”

The researchers noted that a majority of adults impacted by the opioid epidemic have a positive view of their local economy.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives in 2016, a 28-percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015.

Opioid overdoses made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller about 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced a particularly dramatic increase, more than doubling from 9,580 lives in 2015 to 19,413 lives in 2016.

The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials said. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.

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