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Opioid Crisis — A Result of Poverty, Availability and Pain

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

pain management addiction

Story at-a-glance -

  • Evidence suggests the opioid addiction crisis is the result of a perfect storm of poverty, trauma, availability and pain, both psychological and physical
  • Among men, non-Hispanic Whites and those younger than 45, economic downturns that substantially reduce house prices increase rates of opioid-related deaths
  • Researchers have also connected economic recessions and unemployment with rises in illegal drug use among adults
  • Job loss due to international trade is also positively associated with opioid overdose deaths. For each 1,000 people who lost their jobs due to international trade — commonly due to factory shutdowns — there was a 2.7% increase in opioid-related deaths
  • Aggressive marketing is another leading cause of the opioid crisis. In states where triplicate prescription programs were implemented, which led to less aggressive marketing by Purdue, OxyContin distribution rates between 1996 and 2017 were half that of states that did not have such programs

In recent years, the devastating effects of wanton opioid use have become unmistakable, with opioid overdoses killing 47,600 Americans in 2017 alone. As of June 2017, opioids became the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, and President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency that year in October.

I've written many previous articles detailing the background of how the U.S. ended up here. While the opioid crisis was largely manufactured by drug companies hell-bent on maximizing profits, leading to exaggerated and even fraudulent claims about the drugs' safety profile, the increased availability of opioids isn't the sole cause.


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