. . .Today, like the Titanic disaster, America’s ever-growing opioid epidemic is the result of another perfect storm of cascading events and conditions. But instead of 1,500 dead, the opioid crisis has taken the lives of more than 500,000 Americans since 2000 – and some experts believe another 500,000 may die in the next decade if current trends persist. In 2016 and 2017, more Americans lost their lives each year to drug overdoses than died during the entire Vietnam War, driving Americans’ life expectancy as a whole downward.
And the epidemic is only worsening. According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March, opioid overdoses are dramatically spiking across America.
“We have an emergency on our hands,” CDC acting director Anne Schuchat told National Public Radio. “The fast-moving opioid overdose epidemic continues and is accelerating. We saw, sadly, that in every region, in every age group of adults, in both men and women, overdoses from opioids are increasing.” In the last year, hospitalizations for overdoses jumped 14 percent in the Southeast, 20.2 percent in the Southwest, 21.3 percent in the Northeast, 40.3 percent in the West, and a staggering 69.7 percent in the Midwest.
Moreover, officials say overdose and death rates are almost certainly higher than those reflected by statistics, since many victims never see the inside of an emergency room. Indeed, fueled especially by ultra-potent substances like fentanyl, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under the age of 50, reports the CDC.
More ominous yet, it turns out many “accidental” overdose deaths may be intentional. Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D., immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association, recently said that based on the best available data, “it looks like it’s anywhere between 25 and 45 percent of deaths by overdose that may be actual suicides.” (Read more from “500,000 U.S. Deaths Expected in Next Decade – Here’s the Terrifying Reason Why” HERE)