The opioid epidemic is destroying the lives of 130 Americans daily and has resulted in over 70,200 deaths in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
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Tragically, these deaths are entirely preventable.
Gary Mendell lost his son, Brian, to opioid addiction seven years ago. That’s when he found Shatterproof, a non-profit organization which aims to make the treatment industry more transparent and accessible.
“What should be and talked about more is—this is not about a disease that we have to spend another $20 billion and wait another two decades for a vaccine. We could reduce this [opioid] epidemic with more than half tomorrow with the information we have today,” Mendell told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on Friday.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 1 in 12 American adults (18.7 million) had a substance disorder, yet only a fraction of them will get help.
“Our Federal government had provided grants of tens of billions of dollars in the decades prior to my son’s death to researchers all over the country and those researchers had successfully created a body of knowledge that had proven without any doubt to be able to significantly reduce the number of our loved ones whoever used drugs and ever become addicted and significantly improve outcomes and treatment,” Mendell said.
A new survey by The Hartford shows the opioid epidemic is having a tangible and growing impact on employers of all sizes nationwide, and a majority of U.S. workers and Human Resource (HR) professionals feel they have limited knowledge and resources to address addiction.
A large majority of employees (76 percent) and HR professionals (64 percent) do not feel they are well-trained to help their colleagues addicted to opioids. Only 24 percent of HR professionals and 18 percent of employees feel very confident that they could spot the signs of opioid addiction, and only 19 percent of HR professionals and employees feel knowledgeable about how to reduce the risk of opioid addiction.
“One quarter (25 percent) of employees in any business are dealing with addiction. Either themselves as an employee, or a family member,” Mendell said. “The healthcare cost per employee dealing with this issue is three times the cost.”
President Trump recently pledged to battle the deadly epidemic of opioid drug abuse.
“My administration is deploying every resource at our disposal to empower you, support you, and to fight right by your side. We will not solve this epidemic overnight but there’s just nothing going to stop us no matter how you cut it,” he said.
While prescription opioids initially accounted for most deaths, the epidemic is now driven by heroin and fentanyl. The vast majority of opioid overdoses were linked to the use of heroin and fentanyl in 2017, according to federal figures.
“Twenty percent of those addicted of those employees I just mentioned that are dependents, have reported the reason for those who haven’t sought care or treatment is because they don’t want their friends, their families, or their co-workers to find out, Mendell said. “In a recent poll, more than 80 percent of Americans said they are unwilling to associate as a friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor with someone addicted to prescription drugs.”