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Research: US drug overdose crisis worst in rich countries



The American opiate epidemic has led to a complete death from overdose of drugs to a record number – with death from overdose, which in 2017 hit up to 70,000 people, more people died per year than weapons, car crashes, or HIV / AIDS. But a new study confirms that mortality from overdose is not just external to the US;

A study by a researcher at the University of Southern California, Jessica Ho, compared the United States to 17 other rich countries and found that mortality from overdose in America exceeded other nations.

According to data from around the world, a study published in Population and Development Survey showed that in the mid-1

990s, the mortality rate from drug overdose in the United States was largely consistent with other developed countries. At that time, Sweden and Finland brought 18 wealthy countries to death from overdoses.

But due to the opioid crisis in the United States in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical marketing and lobbying forced doctors to make much more opioid analgesics and abuse. and drug addiction has risen – America has begun to go beyond the borders of other countries as a result of death from overdoses.

The second wave of drug overdose came in the 2000s, when heroin flooded the illicit market, as drug traffickers used a new population of people who used opiates, but either lost access to painkillers or just looked for a better, cheaper one. Then a third wave of overdoses began, as illegitimate fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, began to displace heroin in the black market – causing yet another jump in overdose, since fentanyls are usually more potent than heroin or other traditionally consumed opioids. The USA had the highest mortality rate from overdose in any of the countries studied – to date. This indicator was 60 percent higher than in Finland and Sweden, which was once the first among the rich countries.

"The average mortality rate from overdose in the United States was 3.5 times higher than in the partner countries, although this figure ranged from 1.6 to 28 times higher," Ho wrote.

Here's what trends tend to look like for men, the top 10 countries in 2003 are marked with different colors, and the rest are unpainted:


  Diagram showing deaths from male overdose drugs

Jessica Ho / Population and Development Survey

Ho argued that high mortality from overdose in America is one of the reasons why the US lags behind other countries in their overall life expectancy: "On average, life expectancy was about 2.6 years lower in the US than in other countries with a high income in 2013, as for a person as well as for women and drug overdose was 12% and 8% of these 2.6 year old gaps, respectively.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have made similar relationships between the current crisis of drug overdose and life expectancy, recognizing the increase in mortality from overdose in recent years to the fraction of life expectancy in the United States in 2017.

One warning to the study: it only uses data for 2015 Since then, the opioid crisis has become even worse, especially since fentanyl continued to spread to n legitimate drug markets. Thus, the United States could have been even worse, comparatively, in recent years, although Ho pointed out some evidence that Australia, Canada, and the UK seem to be on a similar trajectory.

There are real solutions to the opioid crisis

Health experts and policy makers say there are solutions to the opioid crisis. First, America could significantly expand access to drug treatment, which, based on the general report of a surgeon in 2016, remains inaccessible to most people who need it. This should substantially increase access to medicines such as methadone and buprenorphine, which are considered the gold standard of treatment for opioid dependence and reduce the mortality rate among patients with opioid dependence of half or more.

When France relaxed the restrictions on doctors who prescribed buprenorphine in response to their own opioid crisis in 1995, the number of people treated was increased, while mortality from overdose declined by 79% over the next four years

. Reduce over-the-counter prescriptions for opioid analgesics – to prevent drug abuse by more people, while providing access to patients who really need them. Approaches to harm reduction, such as needle exchange and a larger distribution of oligoid opioid opioids, will also help.

Some of the states that have taken such actions, based on state and federal data, have reduced or reduced mortality from overdose. in 2017

Vermont saw that mortality from overdose declined by about 6 percent in 2017 with the further expansion of the system that combines drug treatment with other types of healthcare. Rhode Island also saw a drop of about 2 percent, as it introduced, among other changes, better access to drugs for opioid dependence in jaws and in jails. And Massachusetts saw a roughly 3 percent drop, as well as a public health campaign that emphasized more drug treatment, including ambulances, and fewer painkillers.

This is not a huge decline. But they are important because they are in the states of New England – one of the regions most affected by opioid crises, and saw that death from overdose has steadily increased in recent years. Health interventions may also take time to get rooted as more and more people learn about the risks of drug addiction and that treatment is really affordable now

The constant problem for many states was the lack of federal resources. The Congress has increased funding for the treatment of opioid dependence here and there over the past years, but still allocated funds do not reach tens of billions of dollars, which, according to experts, need to fully and quickly confront the epidemic of opioids. And despite generous promises, President Donald Trump did little to change that.

So, America continues to lead other wealthy countries in case of death from overdose.


For more details on the epidemic of opioids, see .
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