The opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions. To combat it, the first step is acknowledging the problem. Get the facts about what’s happening and get up to speed on why we the people must come together to make a meaningful difference.
The UnTOLD Story
As part of the largest civil action in U.S. history, the secrecy of details surrounding the rise and proliferation of the opioid epidemic has finally lifted. A U.S. District judge ordered information from the ARCOS (Automation of Reports and Consolidated Order System) database, compiled and monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), be released, giving us a real look into the depth of this crisis. And it’s mind-blowing.
76 billion opioid pills — yep, that’s billion with a “b” — were distributed in the U.S. from 2006 through 2012. That’s 36 pills for every adult and child in this country … every year. Right in our backyards, Leavenworth, Kan., was among the areas hardest hit. In the county during this window of time, 118,021,330 pain pills were distributed, or the equivalent of 227 pills per person per year.
- From 2006 to 2014 there were 1,139,992,606 prescription pain pills supplied to Kansas.
- 344,690,220 of the pills were distributed by McKesson Corporation and 428,882,400 were manufactured by SpecGx LLC.
VA CONSOLIDATED MAIL OUTPATIENT PHARMACY, LEAVENWORTH pharmacy received the highest number of pills.
- From 2006 to 2014 there were 2,168,750,877 prescription pain pills supplied to Missouri.
- 434,751,920 of the pills were distributed by Walgreen Co and 799,339,247 were manufactured by SpecGx LLC.
- INTERLOCK PHARMACY SYSTEMS, FLORISSANT pharmacy received the highest number of pills.
The opioid epidemic is considered the deadliest drug crisis in American history. The numbers will surprise you.
From Prescription Pills to Made-to-Order Poison
Sure, America has since acknowledged the problem. And measures have been taken to limit prescription opioids in the marketplace. But the crisis has continued to morph and overdose deaths have soared. Welcome to the epidemic’s third wave.
Not Only an Adult Problem
Opioid abuse has trickled down from adults to teens to pre-teens.
- 17.6% of U.S. youths ages 12 to 17 who were prescribed opioids report misusing them
- 2.6% of young people misusing prescription opioids have substance use disorder
Kids believe it won’t happen to them. Parents believe it won’t happen to their kids. No one is invincible when it comes to opioids. Denial is not an option: Parents and teens must take notice of the risks of opioid abuse and take responsibility to prevent it.
“The obsession will not cease. I make myself sick with craving…. How can I be so completely obsessed with something so innately evil, destructive, costly, and all-powerful?”
— Alexa Lamoureux, who became addicted at age 19 and died of an overdose at age 28. Her mother created the memorial site LearnFromLexi.org to educate parents and young people about the truth of addiction
When Legal Turns Lethal
Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body. It disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. It damages various body systems. It shatters families, relationships and neighborhoods. And it often starts with prescription drugs prescribed for specific pain.
In addition to the work being done by mothers and fathers, police forces, judges, politicians and communities to combat this crisis, every individual who has access to opioid pills needs to monitor, lock up and dispose of medication properly to ensure that an unintended deal doesn’t go down on your watch … and unexpected consequences don’t turn deadly.