August 6, 2013

Opiate addiction: It’s an epidemic

Compared to treatment for alcoholism and other drug abuse, the U.S. is coming up short in help for opiate drug addicts.

Just behind car accidents, opioid drug overdoses now rank as the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States, according to a PBS news report. Public officials have classified the problem as “epidemic,” the report says.

They're so frequent they qualify as an epidemic, public health officials say.

As of 2009, around 2.3 million Americans suffered from addiction to opioids such as heroin or the prescription drug oxycodone. And in an article published Aug. 5 in the journal Health Affairs, Dr. Bohdan Nosyk and seven other experts in the field say there's a major gap between current treatment options and evidence-based practices.

“Forty-five years after the introduction of opioid substitution treatment, practitioners have at their disposal more tools than ever to treat opioid dependence,” the researchers wrote. “Yet these tools are not being used to their greatest potential in the United States or Canada.”

Nosyk — an associate professor of health economics in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia — said excessive regulation presents the biggest barrier for treatment in the U.S.


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