Giving Compass’ Take:
· This report for the Cato Institute takes a look at the consequences of the ongoing opioid crisis in America and focuses on the part played by prescription opioids.
· Who is most affected by the opioid crisis? How can philanthropy address the ongoing opioid crisis?
The opioid “epidemic” is one of the most pressing public health issues for local, state, and federal policymakers and its consequences have been widely documented. The so‐called epidemic is often characterized by the rise of prescription opioid use. Between 1992 and 2011, the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States increased nearly threefold from approximately 75 million annually to 220 million annually. At its peak in 2010 – 2012, the opioid prescription rate was 80 per 100 people in the United States, although only about 20 percent of the population had one or more prescriptions. Since 2010, the opioid prescription rate had declined to 59 per 100 people in 2017.
The second prominent fact used to characterize the opioid epidemic is the rise in prescription opioid‐related mortality. Between 1999 and 2010, the rate of prescription opioid‐overdose deaths increased from just over 1 death per 100,000 population to just over 5 per 100,000 and remained at around 5 per 100,000 through 2016. Finally, the rise in nonprescription opioid (e.g., heroin and fentanyl) deaths is also often included to document the epidemic. The rate of nonprescription opioid (heroin and fentanyl combined) deaths increased from approximately 1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 2 per 100,000 in 2010. After this date, nonprescription opioid deaths began to increase markedly, rising to more than 10 per 100,000 by 2016.
While the sheer magnitude of opioid prescriptions and the mortality consequences of the opioid epidemic have garnered most of the research and public policy attention, the rise in prescription opioid use may have had other consequences. For example, outcomes that may be plausibly affected by opioid use (both medical and nonmedical) include marriage, earnings, and health. There have been no studies of the effect of prescription opioid use on these outcomes. There have been a few studies of the effect of opioid use on employment, although evidence from these few studies remains mixed.
Read the full article about the consequences of prescription opioids by Robert Kaestner at the Cato Institute.
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