Opioid addiction skyrockets nearly 500 percent in U.S.

Posted Jun 29, 2017 by Karen Graham
A recent analysis of millions of American medical claims revealed that diagnoses for opioid addiction have skyrocketed by nearly 500 percent over the past seven years, according to the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association.
Recovering addicts exercise at Recovery Point in Huntington  West Virginia  where 28 people overdos...
Recovering addicts exercise at Recovery Point in Huntington, West Virginia, where 28 people overdosed on a single day in August after injecting heroin laced with fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
The Blue Cross-Blue Shield report, released on Thursday showed that in an analysis of its members from 2010 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with opioid addiction, from both legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs, climbed 493 percent, yet very few received treatment.
The clinical term for opioid addiction is "opioid-use disorder," and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is using it as a new carrot to lure GOP senators to support the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare: a $45 billion fund dedicated to America’s escalating opioid crisis, according to VICE.
Besides the very real problem over too many prescriptions being written for opioids, appeals to physicians to cut back on opioid prescriptions hasn't appeared to work that well. Now there is the added concern over treatment for opioid addiction. Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is considered the "Gold Standard" in treatment regimes and includes the prescribing of medications like buprenorphine or methadone, along with behavioral therapy.
West Virginia  a mountainous state of less than two million people  is among one of the hardest hit ...
West Virginia, a mountainous state of less than two million people, is among one of the hardest hit communities in the US which is facing an epidemic of opioid and heroin abuse
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
But like any health care treatment, unless you have health insurance or are independently wealthy, you may be out of luck. “Opioid use disorder is a complex issue, and there is no single approach to solving it,” Dr. Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA said in a statement, reports WTVR Richmond.
“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.
But the infrastructure needed to support people needing treatment for opioid-use disorder effectively is lacking, and even more worrisome, this issue is all tied into the latest battle in Congress over the health care bill. And many GOP lawmakers in states other than New England should be worried because the study also found that " more people with opioid-use disorder are treated with medication in New England than in the South and parts of the Midwest."
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wants federal authorities to improve opioid addicts  access to buprenorphin...
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wants federal authorities to improve opioid addicts' access to buprenorphine, a potentially life-saving medication that curbs drug cravings.
Here's a fact for you - At least 91 people die every single day in the U.S. from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Actually, the CDC points out that more people die from drug overdoses in the U.S. than guns or car accidents.
And here is another fact to digest - The BCBSA report also found that women 45 and older had higher rates of abuse than men. This fits in with the CDC's analysis that shows overdose deaths for women due to prescription painkillers have jumped more than 400 percent, while for men it has increased by 265 percent.
Activists and family members of people who have died from opioid/heroin use take part in a "Fed...
Activists and family members of people who have died from opioid/heroin use take part in a "Fed Up!" rally at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC
All this information leads to the crux of the GOP efforts to rewrite the Obamacare health Insurance law. There has been a lot of discussion over the cuts to Medicaid in the latest proposed version of Trump care. The current Republican plan would cut $772 billion worth of Medicaid funding over the next 10 years.
Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich also pointed out that dangling $45 billion in front of lawmakers who were unsure of the latest version of the bill wouldn’t be enough to offset the deep Medicaid cuts. “That’s like spitting in the ocean,” Kasich said.
So it looks like desperately needed medical care for this opioid epidemic is taking a back seat to political in-fighting, and that is certainly not helping the American people.