7 Staggering Statistics About America’s Opioid Epidemic

Every year millions of Americans use opioids to manage pain. Prescribed opioids can be appropriate in some cases, however, they just mask the pain and the reliance on opioids has led to the worst health crisis in American history.

The American College of Physicians, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have issued multiple reports and issued guidelines urging healthcare providers to find safer non-drug alternatives to manage pain, such as physical therapy, for most non-cancer related pain treatment plans.

Here are some statistics about the opioid epidemic:

  1. In 2017, health care providers across the US wrote more than 191 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication—a rate of 58.7 prescriptions per 100 people.
  2. Despite guidelines to limit opioids as a first approach to managing most chronic pain, a study found primary care clinicians write 45% of all opioid prescriptions in the United States.
  3. More than 11 million people misused prescription opioids in 2017.
  4. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
  5. In 2017, prescription opioids were involved in more than 35% of all opioid overdose deaths: nearly 17,000.
  6. From 1999 to 2017, almost 218,000 people in the United States died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
  7. The CDC estimates the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the US is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

If you know someone in pain, encourage them to talk to their physician or PT about safe ways to manage pain.

The American Physical Therapy Association launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription opioids and the safe alternative of physical therapy for long-term pain management.

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