The United States is suffering from an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. And it’s getting worse at an alarming rate:

  • 2014: 47,055
  • 2015: 52,404 (+11.4%)
  • 2016: 63,632 (+21.4%)

Sources: CNN 12/21/2017, NYT 6/5/2017WaPo 12/11/2015

To put these numbers in perspective, that’s more than

  • Peak car crash deaths (~55,000 in 1972)
  • Peak HIV deaths (~47,000 in 1995)
  • Peak gun deaths (~39,000 in 1993)

Or as Chris Christie chairing a White House commission on the epidemic put it, the 2015 numbers (~142 deaths per day) are “equal to September 11th every three weeks”. By now with the estimates for 2017 in the vicinity of 66,000 deaths or 180 per day, that’s almost a September 11th every two weeks!

Different regions and demographics are impacted in different ways. An interesting breakdown by state was provided in a recent article from the NYT, 12/22/2017:

The epidemic is felt all across the country, but nowhere with more force than in the Appalachian region. Dying of a drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 and is the main reason for live expectancy in the United States to have fallen. From a CNN, 12/21/2017 article:

  • 2015 was the first downturn of life expectancy in the U.S. in more than two decades.
  • 2016 was the second year with a drop, the first time this has happened since 1963.
  • 2017 may be a third year with a drop, the first time this would have happened in 100 years since the Spanish flu.

In 2016, the surgeon general published an extensive report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health. This is an excellent resource to both understand the factors contributing to this epidemic as well as the ways families, communities and healthcare providers can help. One of the tenets is that while substance use still has a societal stigma, it should be understood as and treated like a chronic disease or disorder.

From its key findings on early intervention, treatment, and management of substance use disorders:

  • Promising scientific evidence suggests that several electronic technologies, like the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and the use of telehealth, could improve access, engagement, monitoring, and continuing supportive care of those with substance use disorders.

It is a sad reality, but the need for addiction treatment does not appear to diminish or go away anytime soon. MedicalMime with its EHR specifically designed for addiction treatment is committed to helping and to making a difference.

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