Opioid Crisis in the United States: Overwhelming Statistics

Opioid Crisis in the United States: Overwhelming Statistics

  • Estimated overdose deaths in 2021: 107,0001
  • 50% of all emergency room visits were classified as substance use disorders2
  • Opioid overdose estimated annual cost to US Hospitals: $11 Billion3
  • Average cost for an overdose patient who was admitted and treated: $11,7313
  • Average cost for an overdose patient admitted to the ICU: $20,5003

Drug-related treatment is a public health crisis that imposes a huge burden on the US healthcare system. From 2001 through 2021, death rates increased from 6.1 per 100,000 population to 32.4 per 100,000 population, with the largest increase per year at 14% from 2020 to 20214.

Drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl have tripled from 2016 to 2021, with a whopping 55% increase from 2019 to 20205. Death rates involving methamphetamine and cocaine have also increased while rates involving heroin have decreased and rates involving oxycodone remain flat5.

Can The Paradigm Change?

Tom McLellan, founder of the Treatment Research Institute, George Koob, Director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and Nora Volkow, MD, Director at NIDA propose a plan for better detection and support of people in the early stages of substance use disorder titled “pre-addiction”6. Their proposed plan mimics detection and treatment currently used for chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes where early intervention and patient education can prevent disease progression. Identification of individuals in the early stages of substance use is critical to initiating preventive care. This can be achieved through screening during routine checkups and early intervention6. They are hoping that this proposal will help fuel policies and healthcare resources that would support early intervention activities.

Screening for Substance Use

Substance use disorders (SUDs) are not discriminatory; they occur in every socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic group. Screening for substance use in various medical populations would assist in the detection, prevention, and treatment for patients. A variety of settings would be applicable for testing, such as:

  • Pain Management Setting

Patients experiencing chronic pain should be evaluated for demographic, physical, and psychosocial factors that could predict opioid misuse7. In treating patients with chronic opioids, utilizing urine drug testing is a mainstay in the monitoring process8.

  • Pediatric/Adolescent Setting

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages primary care clinicians to follow the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) model and recommends universal screening for substance use with adolescents whenever a teen receives any medical care to increase the chances of identifying risky substance use9.

  • Family Medicine/Obstetrics Setting

Recommendations from a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Expert Meeting on Perinatal Illicit Drug Abuse highlight the need for universal drug screening during pregnancy, and many professional organizations—including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists—recommend it10.

Reversing Opioid Overdoses

Narcan is a naloxone nasal spray that received FDA approval in 2018. Narcan is a life-saving medication that temporarily stops or reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, but it was approved to be administered by medical personnel11.

On March 29, 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan, 4 milligram (mg) naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray for over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription, use – the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription. This action paves the way for the life-saving medication to reverse an opioid overdose to be sold directly to consumers in places like drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores and gas stations, as well as online12.

Because the opioid crisis continues to flourish among young people, the National Association of School Nurses has issued a position statement that the safe and effective management of opioid-related overdoses in schools must be incorporated into the school emergency preparedness and response plans. When emergencies happen, including drug-related emergencies, proper management of these incidents at school is vital to positive outcomes. School nurses in this role should facilitate access to naloxone for quick response in the management of opioid-related overdoses in the school setting13.

DTPM’s Mission

DTPM’s mission is to help fight drug dependency. We offer drug testing solutions, both screening and confirmation testing, to a variety of testing facilities such as drug courts, treatment centers, physician office labs, reference labs and more.

Contact us today to learn how DTPM can help you achieve success in this war on the opioid crisis.