A new research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that only one-sixth of people with an opioid addiction receive treatment. Prevalence rates of “opiate use disorders” in the general population rose from 11.9 percent in 2003 to 17.8 percent in 2013, in what is frequently dubbed an “epidemic.” In 36 states and Washington D.C., including Louisiana, overdose deaths now exceed deaths caused by vehicular accidents (2011-2013 data). Editorials and reports accompanying the JAMA research letter note that emergency visits for nonmedical use of prescription opioids more than doubled between 2004 and 2011, accounting for an estimated 488,000 ER visits in 2011. Deaths due to nonmedical use of opioid medications have tripled since 1999, translating to an estimated 16,235 deaths in 2013. Just 16.6 percent of those with opiate use disorders received any treatment between 2004 and 2008. However, that treatment percentage has risen to 21.5 percent between 2009 and 2013. Stigma and cost of care (many programs do not accept public insurance) remain the most significant barriers to treatment.
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