Using Statistics to Study Opioid/Opiate Addiction and Overdoses

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Statistics are important, but how we compile and analyze statistics are also important. Using statistics in these ways can help us take effective, focused action.

Speaking of statistics, we frequently see grim information about drug abuse and addiction. The numbers are depressing. For example, the state of Michigan experienced more overdose-related fatalities in 2017 than it did in 2016.

There were 2,729 total drug-related deaths in Michigan in 2017. 1,941 of these opioid deaths related just to opioid/opiate drugs. Some of the increases in 2017 deaths are due to new definitions of opioid overdoses. 2017 totals included overdose deaths related to the opioid opium as well as deaths related to unspecified narcotics.

The statistics show just how dangerous opioid misuse can be. They accounted for the bulk of the drug overdoses in the state of Michigan in 2017 as well as thousands of overdoses and deaths in the United States.

In theory, knowing that the bulk of Michigan overdose deaths related to a specific type of drugs can help people find effective treatment. This appears to be the reasoning behind recent federal legislation.

In September, 2018, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (also known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act). Some of the provisions of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act include:

  • Changing Medicaid and Medicare to make treatment more accessible
  • Creating grant programs to address opioid addiction
  • Calling for more research related to nonopioid treatments
  • Penalizing doctors who overprescribe opioids
  • Encouraging the use of addiction treatments such as the drug naloxone
  • Striving to restrict the movement of opioids in the United States

These approaches make sense. Targeting legislation to address problems with one type of drugs seems more sensible and could be more effective. This is more large-scale work to address problems, while reputable rehab facilities address problems on a smaller scale. These facilities work with their clients to assess their problems and ask them what they want and need in their treatment.

Knowing statistics is important. Knowing what to do with them is even more important.