Addiction is a serious problem at home and across the United States. At different times in recent history, different drugs have been rampant. In recent years, opioids are negatively affecting many North Carolinians and their families.
Opioids are different than other drugs in the sense that addiction often begin with a professional medical opinion that later escalates out of control. At this point in time, it’s well known that many doctors were prescribing potentially addictive opium-based medications when less addictive options were available. Now we’re paying the price.
That’s a lot of pills
There have been more than 400,000 opioid deaths in the US since 1997. Data for 2018 isn’t available, but in 2017 North Carolina averaged 19.8 deaths per 100,000 persons. The national average is 14.6 deaths per 100,000. It’s a problem everywhere, but especially here. Notably, the state’s rate of opioid prescriptions in 2017 was also about 13 percent higher than the national average.
Higher prescription rates are a red flag for regulators. US prosecutors are investigating pharmaceutical companies for this type of abuse now. Federal prosecutors recently sent subpoenas to at least five companies. While some subpoenas may be regulatory, signs point toward a criminal investigation. Under the Controlled Substances Act, companies are required to report unusually large shipments of opioid medications. Previous investigations have found unreported shipments, such as a case in West Virginia, where a town of 400 people was shipped a whopping 3.7 million hydrocodone pills over a span of three years.
There is no single solution
Holding irresponsible corporations accountable is one step but the opioid crisis is far reaching with many complex elements. Addiction can lead to criminal charges, including charges unrelated to drugs. Anybody suffering from their own addiction or that of a loved one should seek help. Addiction is difficult, but there is hope.