Bleak New Estimates in Drug Epidemic: A Record 72,000 Overdose Deaths in 2017 – New York Times – Aug 2018
Remember, this number is for all deaths from all drugs, not just opioids and certainly rarely prescribed opioids for the decedent, but rather illicit fentanyl added to all kinds of other drugs (cocaine, meth, heroin). You can read the usual misguided story about “innocent victims” and the horrors of any and all opioid use, but here are a couple of intelligent rebuttals from ATIP members:
Published comment by Richard A Lawhern PhD | Fort Mill SC
The opioid crisis wasn’t caused by prescribing to patients in pain and won’t be solved by restricting prescriptions. Drug prescribing is now at a ten year low, while overdose deaths continue to climb.
The contribution of medical opioids to overdose mortality is so small that it gets lost in the noise of illegal street drugs. Search for “The Phony War Against Opiods – Some Inconvenient Truths” published by The Crime Report on June 21.
The only significant role of prescription opioids is in initiating drug abuse among people who never saw a doctor. This is diversion and theft, not prescription.
Denial of pain relief and arbitrary discharges and desertions by doctors afraid of DEA persecution are killing patients. This is MADNESS.
Below is a Twitter conversation that elaborates on the numbers and how they were obtained.
2/Remember that most OD’s involve multiple drugs in combination.
***The CDC allows
one death to contribute to
multiple lines in a graph like this.***
The CDC has admitted to “unintentionally” inflating the total number of overdoses by sometimes adding together all these numbers, thus counting each death multiple times for each substance found. (see CDC Over-Counting Rx Opioid Overdose Deaths)
But fentanyl & cocaine/stimulants are clearly surging. Is there a slight “dip” on heroin and natural/semisynthetic (often prescribed)?
3/We cannot assert a slight downturn in some overdose categories because (a) the % “pending investigation” for many states is still high, i.e. >25% (esp in 2017) but even further back. We have to wait for longer-term trends. We are still in an escalating tragedy.
4/Two heartfelt sentiments. First this could be FAR WORSE if not for the extraordinary community & civic efforts unfolding in so many communities across America. Republican or Democrat, faith-based or not. I see them I collaborate, and it’s reason for hope.
5/And while prescribing failures are a serious part of how we got here, our current intense “pill control” focus is imbalanced, often merciless & not protective of many who need respect & care. We can do better.