Health

Drug Addiction Treatment Hard To Get, Overdose Deaths Soar

| by Michael Allen

More Americans die these days from drug overdoses than from automobile or firearm deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 33,084 traffic deaths and 33,636 gun deaths in 2013.

USA TODAY notes there are almost 44,000 deaths every year from drug overdoses in the U.S., and the "death rate from drug overdoses more than doubled from 1999 to 2013, according to the CDC."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 11% of 22.7 million people who needed treatment for alcohol and drugs got the help they needed in 2013.

Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told USA TODAY that American doctors dispensed about 259 million prescriptions for pain killers in 2012.

Obamacare mandates that health insurance plans provide a base coverage for substance abuse treatments, but many insurance plans nickel and dime patients, and place strict limits, even less than Medicaid.

There is also an extreme disconnect between science and reality in America when it comes to drug addiction.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
found in a 2012 study that one-third of Americans think addiction is a "lack of willpower or self-control," noted The Huffington Post.

While the beliefs of drug addiction are a fantasy for millions of Americans, the cost is real.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse website states:

Substance abuse costs our Nation over $600 billion annually and treatment can help reduce these costs. Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated  health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. Treatment is also much less expensive than its alternatives, such as incarcerating addicted persons. For example, the average cost for 1 full year of methadone maintenance treatment is approximately $4,700 per patient, whereas 1 full year of imprisonment costs approximately $24,000 per person.

The Obama administration requested $133 million in February to combat heroin and prescription medication overdoses in the U.S.

According to The Hill, "The new funds would expand access to treatment, build up the national system for monitoring prescriptions and better train emergency responders, administration officials added. The plan would also tighten prescription drug use under Medicare Part D, requiring 'high-risk beneficiaries' to get their medication only from specific providers and pharmacies."

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Hysingla ER, which "is up to 24 times more powerful than a single Vicodin" in November 2014, noted the Los Angeles Times.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control, USA TODAY, The Huffington Post, National Institute on Drug Abuse, The Hill, Los Angeles Times
Image Credit: CDC