Researchers find that the number of Americans diagnosed with opioid addiction is continuing to rise, but very few people are getting treated for their disease.
Opioid drug disorder study
A study from Blue Cross Blue Shield of their members found that from 2010 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with an addiction to opioids rose to nearly 500%. According to the report, researchers found in 2010 there were 1.4 incidences of an opioid addiction among every 1000 members. But, by 2016 the number increased to 8.3 rates of opioid use disorder for every 1000 members. Meanwhile, there was only a 65% percent increase in the number of people receiving treatment for their addiction despite the rise of 493% opioid addicted members.
Dr. Trent Haywood, a senior vice-president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield, issued a statement on the matter calling opioid use disorder a “complex issue” without a single solution to “solving” the growing problem.
“It will take a collaborative effort among medical professionals, insurers, employers, communities and all levels of government working together to develop solutions that effectively meet community needs,” he added.
Researchers found that the longer someone was prescribed an opioid, the more likely they became addicted to the drugs. This report follows a similar report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, which found a prescription of 31 days increased the chances of long-term opioid abuse to 29.9%.
Solutions for the opiate drug problem?
An Ohio city councilman suggested a solution to solving the growing opioid problem. Dan Picard proposes giving drug users two chances. Paramedics should respond to an overdose twice, and each time the addict will be required to go to court and do community service after being treated. If they do not show up to court, don’t complete the community service and overdose a third time? Picard suggests no one should come to help them. Picard ultimately argues that it is a financial issue saying that the city spent $1.2 million responding to those calls and estimates the cost will exceed $2 million.
“Either we go down the road with my plan, or we don’t, and we run out of money,” Picard said. “In either scenario, they’re not going to get treatment.”
Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield of America vice president of state affairs, Kim Holland, says they are working on addressing the growing opioid use disorder problem. “BCBS companies are already undertaking initiatives to help families and communities address opioid use disorder by forging partnerships with the medical community to promote best practices in prescribing and providing critical education to the public to raise awareness of the risks of opioid use,” said Kim Holland.