A recent RealLeaders article compared the opioid epidemic to terrorism in the context that it kills more than 10 times more Americans a year than all terrorist attacks in the last 16 years combined. The comparison seems extreme until you realize the United States only accounts for just 5% of the global population, yet it consumes 85% of all opioids. Aggressive television, internet, and print ads that present prescription drugs as panaceas for the most mundane of symptoms contribute to the desensitization of these lethal yet legal drugs.
In 2014, over 47,000 people died of accidental overdose – 29,000 of which were opioid-related drugs including prescription pain medications, making drug overdose the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. 80% of heroin addicts start out with legal prescriptions from physicians for injury, post-operative care, or medical procedure. CleanSlate has done its part to combat the epidemic by raising $25 million from private equity to increase patient treatment from 7,000 to 50,000 by 2019. The full article contains more interesting statistics and potential solutions and is worth the read.