It is staggering to think that 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Ninety-one!
The U.S. Center for Disease Control, or CDC, reported: “Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled. From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.”
Every life matters, and we’re not counting apples and oranges. But when 49 died in Hurricane Maria, 72 in Hurricane Irma, 77 in Hurricane Harvey and 59 die in the Vegas massacre, we rightly moved heaven and earth to help. Those same numbers of humans die every day from opioid use. Granted, most are succumbing to such addictions, while the former were victims from natural disasters and a heinous massacre. Nevertheless, every life matters. And 91 more precious American souls will die today because of the opioid proliferation, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
The White House tells us President Trump will soon to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.
The president already declared: “Preliminary data indicates that approximately 64,000 Americans died last year of drug overdoses in the United States, the majority of them from opioids. The number of infants born with opioid dependence has more than quadrupled in the past decade. Nearly 100 Americans, on average, die each day from opioid overdoses, and overdose rates are highest among people between 25 to 54 years old, robbing so many of our young people of their potential. This is a genuine crisis that my Administration is working tirelessly to address.”
Just for clarification, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Opioids are medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.” These legal opioids or prescription painkillers are often times gateway drugs for heroin, according to health and drug experts. Heroin is also an opioid but is illegal.
The New York Times reported, “Rates of prescription opiate abuse have risen steadily over the last decade, while the number of people reporting that they used heroin in the past 12 months has nearly doubled since 2007 to 620,000, according to government statistics.”
But opiates come in greater potency than heroin. For example, fentanyl, the most powerful painkiller on the market for cancer patients, is the drug that we now know killed the singer Prince. Experts say fentanyl, which is also available on the streets in an illicit form, “can be 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin.”
Border agents are fighting the import of fentanyl at every port and boundary of the U.S., including daily massive searches at airports like New York’s JFK airport.
What’s contributed to the unbelievable increase in opioid use, addiction and overdose is actually the mafia-style reciprocal relationship between Big Pharma and tens of thousands of physicians across the country, who are getting financial kickbacks and other perks from their “dealers,” or pharmaceutical companies, for dealing their drugs to hundreds of thousands of U.S. patients.
- Drug companies made more than 375,000 non-researchopioid-related payments to more than 68,000 physicians, totaling more than $46 million!
- This amounts to one in 12 U.S. physicians collecting money from drug companies producing prescription opioids.
- The top 1 percent of physicians received nearly 83 percent of the payments, and the drug fentanyl was associated with the highest payments.
- Many of the states struggling with the highest rates of overdose deaths, such as Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, were those showing the most opioid-related payments to physicians.
Live Trading News reported, “A Harvard study, ‘The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market,’ explains that the over-prescription of opioids was, and continues to be, a fundamental cause of the opioid epidemic, noting that such prescriptions rose 104 percent from 2000 to 2010.”
As staggering as those statistics are, the most alarming statistic to me is this: Approximately 80 percent of the world’s opioid supply is consumed entirely in the United States. Eighty percent of all opiates are consumed by only 5 percent of the total world’s population!
There were about 300 million pain prescriptions written in the U.S. in 2015, which is almost one for every American if distributed evenly (of course, we know they are not).
Among young people nationwide, 17 percent (or roughly one-in-five) students had taken prescription drugs (e.g., Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, Adderall, Ritalin or Xanax) without a doctor’s prescription one or more times during their life,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, an annual report conducted each year since 1991.
Someone kills 91 Americans a day, which includes a 19 percent increase among teens. I can hear some readers say, “You mean, something, namely opioids, kills 91 Americans, not someone.” No, I mean, someone, because it is someone that is dealing or giving the power for the something (opioids) to kill. And if the heart of the problem is someone, then we’ve got to deal with and help heal the hearts of people to decrease the staggering overdose and addiction rates.
Why is opioid use skyrocketing among youth and our nation? There are a host of reasons, including a few valid ones like genuine chronic pain relief. But among those reasons that are invalid is a restless, weak, discontent and hedonistic nation unable to weather tough times and difficulty without an instant high or stress and pain reliever – a “happiness pill.”
Dr. Peter Ubel, a physician and behavioral scientist, posits this explanation: “Even though many addicts are miserable, this misery doesn’t mean that their use of heroin or crack is irrational. As Becker and Murphy put it: ‘People often become addicted precisely because they are unhappy. However, they would be even more unhappy if they were prevented from consuming the addictive goods.'”
If a lack of happiness is contributing to the core of addictions to opioids and other drugs – and I believe it is – then I highly encourage people everywhere to master the art of being happy and content by reading the bestselling book, “Happiness,” by my friend and prolific author, Randy Alcorn. (It’s available right now at half off through his website.)
“Happiness” is one ginormous resource to discover yours and others’ true happiness and regain health and balance in our souls, households, communities and nation. I also encourage people to listen to Randy’s Happiness audio and video messages, and check out the resources on his Happiness blog, where his series of Happiness articles are available free of charge.
In light of the epidemic drug use in our nation, Randy couldn’t have put it better when he addressed how we are hardwired for happiness but with one serious flaw: “I argue in the book the problem isn’t they’re trying to be happy. Rather, God wired us to seek happiness. The problem is we seek happiness in the wrong places …”
America’s founders also knew this key to human happiness. It is the reason they embedded in our nation and our founding document the words: We are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Now, that’s a happiness we can stand on, will strengthen our country and will also lower addiction rates and death sentences from opioids.