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Survey: US overdose crisis is the worst among rich nations



The American opioid epidemic has led to overdose deaths to record a record number – overdose deaths hit 70,000 in 2017, killing more people per year than weapons, car crashes, or HIV / AIDS ever in US history . But a new study confirms that the level of overdose deaths is not just outside the historical norms of the US;

Survey conducted by Southern California University researcher Jessica Ho compares the United States with 17 other rich nations and finds that the American overdose death rate surpassed other nations for more

Based on data from all over the world World, the study published in the Population and Development Review found that in the mid-1

990s, the US overdose death rate was largely consistent with that of other developed countries. At that time Sweden and Finland led the 18 rich nations to overdose deaths. and addiction has risen – America has begun to overtake other countries in cases of overdose deaths.

The second wave of drug overdoses began in the 2000s when heroin flooded the illicit market as drug dealers took advantage of a new population of people who used opiates but either lost access to analgesics or simply looked for better -cheap. Then a third wave of overdoses began as the illegal fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, began to replace heroin in the black market – causing another surge in overdosing because fentanyl is generally stronger than heroin or other traditionally used opiates. , The United States had the highest overdose mortality among any of the countries surveyed – far away. This percentage was 60% higher than in Finland and Sweden, which were once at the top among the rich nations.

"The average overdose mortality rate is 3.5 times higher in the US than in other countries, although this figure varies from 1.6 to 28 times higher," said Ho.

Here are the trends for men, with the 10 largest countries in 2003 marked with different colors and the rest are colorless:


  Diagram showing male overdose deaths. in 19 rich nations. </p>
<figure class=

  Jessica Ho <em> Population and Development </em></cite></p>
<p>    </span></p>
</figure>
<p id= Ho claims that the high American overdose mortality rate is one of the reasons why the United States lags behind other countries in life expectancy: "Average life expectancy was approximately 2.6 years less in the US than in other high-income countries in 2013 for men and women, and drug overdoses are respectively 12% and 8% of those 2.6 years of gaps. "

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have made similar links between the current drug overdose crisis and life expectancy, linking the rise in overdose deaths in recent years with part of the decline in life expectancy in the US in 2017

One objection to the study: It only uses data by 2015. Since then, the opioid crisis has deteriorated further, especially when fentanyl continues to spread to illicit drug markets. So the United States may have been even worse, comparatively in recent years, although Ho pointed to some evidence that Australia, Canada and the UK seem to be on a similar trajectory.

There are real solutions to the opioid crisis

Public health and drug policy experts say there are solutions to the opioid crisis. First, America could dramatically expand access to addiction treatment – which, based on a surgeon's general report for 2016, remains unavailable to most people who need it. This should lead to a dramatic increase in access to medicines such as methadone and buprenorphine, which are considered a gold standard for the treatment of opiate addiction and reduce half the mortality among patients with opioid dependence.

When France reduced the restrictions on doctors prescribing buprenorphine in response to its own opioid crisis in 1995, the number of people treated with increased mortality and overdose deaths decreased by 79% over the next four years. reduce unnecessary prescriptions for painkillers – to prevent more people from becoming abused, while ensuring that patients who really need it get access. Appropriate harm reduction approaches, such as needle exchange and greater distribution of opiate cocaine, would also help.

Some states that have taken such steps, based on state and federal data, see the death of an overdose decrease or decrease in 2017

Vermont saw the overdose mortality drop by about 6% 2017 with the ongoing expansion of a system of concentrators that integrates the treatment of addiction to the rest of healthcare. Rhode Island also declined by around 2% as it applies, among other changes, better access to opiate addiction drugs in prisons and prisons. And in Massachusetts there is a decline of about 3%, as well as a public health campaign that highlights the treatment of addictions, including in emergency wards, and less prescriptions for painkillers. But they are important because they are in countries in New England – the region most affected by the opioid crisis, and that in recent years overdose deaths have steadily increased. Public health interventions may also take time to validate as more and more people learn about the risks of addiction and that treatment is really available now.

A permanent problem for many countries is the lack of federal resources. In recent years, Congress has increased funding to treat opiate addictions here and there, but the funds allocated so far are far fewer than the tens of billions of dollars that experts say is needed to fully and quickly counteract the opioid epidemic. And despite promising promises, President Donald Trump has done little to change that.

So America continues to lead other rich nations into overdose deaths.


For more information on Opioid Epidemic Solutions, read the Vox Explanation .
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