A devastating new study finds that the opioid epidemic in the United States is continuing to grow. Despite the number of people receiving opioid addiction diagnoses, CNN reports that many aren't getting the treatment they need.
Blue Cross Blue Shield gathered data on members from 2010 to 2016 and found that those "with an opioid use disorder diagnosis spiked 493%." However, the analysis also found that the number of people seeking professional help to treat their addictions only rose by 65% over the same time period.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) found that in 2015, 20.5 million Americans had a substance abuse disorder, and approximately 10% of those people were addicted to either pain relievers or heroin.
Through Blue Cross Blue Shield's study, researchers also learned the longer someone was instructed to use a pain-relieving prescription like oxycodon, the more likely they were to develop an opioid use disorder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being on such a drug for just eight days could be enough to influence someone to use the drug again down the road.
Women, the study found, were more likely to abuse prescription pain relievers than men, with the CDC finding that overdose deaths for women increased to over 400%. The rate for men has increased, too, by 265%.
There's no denying that opioid addiction in the U.S. is an issue. ASAM reported that in 2015 alone, over 33,000 Americans overdosed on either pain pills or heroin.
Though Trump signed an executive order in March establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, medical experts who attended the commission's first meeting are scared that his proposed cuts to Medicaid will essentially obliterate any hope the nation has in reigning in opioid-related deaths, according to PBS.
"Medicaid is the largest national payer for addiction and mental health treatment," Dr. Joe Parks, the medical director for the National Council for Behavioral Health, said during the meeting. "Since the majority of increased opiate deaths and suicide occur in young and middle-aged adults, which is the [Medicaid] expansion population, the Medicaid expansions must be maintained and completed."
It's not just doctors who are worried, either. Public figures like former Vice President Joe Biden have tweeted out their concerns.
With addiction rates rising at such drastic rates, we cannot afford to strip coverage from the people who need it most.