As we close the chapter on 2017, there are certainly a lot of things to reflect upon regarding the state of addiction in the United States. Though many have a hard time admitting it, this has been one of the most devastating years in recent history; with tens of thousands of lives lost to overdoses. Of course it’s the national Opioid Crisis that deserves most of the blame (though there were increases in alcoholism and other dependencies as well). So with that being said, what can we expect in the next 12 months?
Sadly, things may get worse before they get better. President Donald Trump did make news around the world by declaring a “national emergency” this past fall, but many have argued that his administration still isn’t taking drastic enough measures. As the writers from TIME explained, it’s been “big talk, but little action.”
“To be clear, the President’s declaration of a public health emergency was an overdue recognition of the reality of the opioid epidemic in our cities and across the country,” TIME staffer Mary T. Bassett wrote. “But it was definitely short from the much anticipated declaration of national emergency the President had promised, and without much-needed resources to expand effective interventions it has proven to be largely symbolic.”
And as far as last year’s stats go, 2o17 saw a dramatic increase in the amount of drug-related deaths. 23 percent, to be exact. States like West Virginia felt the biggest blow, with 36 out of every 100,000 residents succumbing to overdoses.
That is truly alarming and the fact that President Trump hasn’t taken more swift action is raising the flag for many (as the writers from U.S. News and World Report highlighted in a very informative article). In fact, Trump’s recent Tax Plan has many thinking that the problem could get worse in the coming months. The sweeping changes may have big implications for Obamacare and Medicaid, which limits the amount of treatment many suffering from addiction can receive.
There are also troublesome stats about the increase in fentanyl use and synthetic, more potent painkillers. And it is worth noting that those who feel unaffected by the crisis have a lot to worry about too. Even if no one in your inner circle is struggling with this type of addiction (which is rare), expect to see an impact on the markets and the economy. Last year, the opioid crisis cost the country $504 billion and, with no solutions in sight, you can expect that number to spike up even higher in 2018.