Estimates have not accumulated yet for what is likely to be a harrowing number highlighting the ongoing reality of the opioid epidemic. Town by town and state by state are starting to share their findings, but the national report created by the Centers for Disease Control has not been released.
Until a new study was published in Public Health Reports in June of 2018, statistics on 2015 and 2016 were clear: more than 100,000 have lost their lives to opioid overdose in just a few short years. Now, according to the study, there is more tragic loss of life to be mourned. Potentially 70,000 more opioid overdose deaths occurred between 1999 and 2015, the study found. These deaths didn’t make it into national statistics because they were either unreported or misclassified.
Death certificates are coded in a specific way to indicate the causes of death. There is a code for drug overdose and a specific code for what drug caused the overdose. Time reports that “Of the more than 438,600 unintentional overdose deaths included in the new study’s analysis, roughly 255,500 were coded as opioid-related, approximately 85,600 were coded as non-opioid-related and about 97,100 were coded as unspecified.”
By reallocating the numbers, researchers hypothesized that more than 70,000 unspecified overdose deaths should have been coded as opioid specific.
Why Numbers Matter
Seventy-thousand is not an insignificant number even though it is spread out across more than a decade. Numbers matter because numbers of overdose deaths aren’t just numbers. Those numbers represent people. People who had lives, family members and friends who loved them. People who left a mark on the world, had a purpose, and are missed. Numbers matter because lives matter. Lives lost to opioid overdose matter because they emphasize the severity of this crisis which has been raging for nearly twenty years. The more accurate our details, the better picture we can paint for the general public and for lawmakers. Shame and stigma still exist, affecting the way people view men addicted to opioids and the way their deaths resulting from overdose are viewed as well. Lives matter. The more we learn about lives lost, the more we can do to protect the living.
From the mountains to the coastline, the possibilities of living a life without limits are endless. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, we’re helping men recover their lives from addiction through innovative treatment designed to transform their lives inside and out. For information, call to speak with one of our graduates: (855) 202-2138