The year 2020 quickly came to a close, and goodness it was a year. Not just being an election year, but also a year with a global pandemic, we have all been affected in ways like never before. One theme that has been heard over and over again is the impact that this year has had on the mental health of individuals across the country. Among all of the chaos, many may have forgotten about the opioid crisis we have been battling over the past 2 decades, but the individual, families, and treatment facilities involved have not. In fact, the connection between mental health and addiction may mean that the pandemic is negatively affecting or diverting efforts to battle the opioid crisis. With everything going on, we are left wondering… how many people are addicted to opioids in 2020?

Opioid Addiction Facts 1999 to 2018

Addiction to opioids has been an issue for longer than we may know, however, the issue has grown to epic proportions since the start of the millennia. This growth is greatly associate with the manufacturing and increased prescribing of opioid pain pills. The following statistics summarize the severity of this epidemic over the past 2 decades:

  • Nearly 450,000 individuals died from opioid-related overdoses between 1999 and 2018.
  • Between 1999 and 2018, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids increased 6-fold. 
  • 2013 marked the start of a 3rd and most significant wave of opioid-related overdoses, in which synthetic opioid-related overdoses skyrocketed.

Opioid Addiction in 2020

After the drastic increase in the number of opioid overdoses, the U.S. government took action and dedicated billions of dollars and countless resources to fighting this epidemic. With increased awareness and efforts in regard to preventing opioid use, the goal has been to decrease the number of individuals who develop new opioid use disorders and/or dependence. The question is, “did it work?” and “how did the events in 2020 effect these efforts?” In other words, how many people are still addicted to opioids in 2020? 

Addiction treatment facilities across the globe have seen that there has been an impact and opioid addiction is still a major issue, but we won’t know these answers for sure until the year is over and the data has been collected. However, we can look at data from recent years and see how things have been trending in recent years (since the major spike in 2013). For instance,

  • The number of drug overdose deaths in 2018 decreased by 4% compared to 2017
  • Drug overdose deaths were 4x greater in 2018 than they were in 1999
  • 2 out of every 3 overdose deaths in 2018 involved some form of opioid.
  • Nearly 47,000 individuals died from opioid overdoses in 2018.
  • 32% of all opioid deaths in 2018 involved prescription opioid medications.

The fact that drug overdoses decreased between 2017 and 2018 sounds great, except that 4% is insignificant compared to how much these numbers have increased even in just the past decade. Stoping the numbers from rising is a critical first step, but it is clear that there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done to get the number of people addicted to opioids way back down.