In 2016 alone, deaths from drug overdoses exceeded the number of American deaths that occurred during the Vietnam War. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2016. This is more than three times the age-adjusted rate of drug overdoses in 1999. Roughly two-thirds of those drug overdoses now involve opioids.
This opioid problem is reaching millions. In 2016, roughly 20.1 million Americans had a substance abuse disorder. That’s about one in 13 people. The opioids affecting millions of Americans every year include drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and of course, heroin. The increase of deaths involving the opioid crisis is so large that it is now affecting the life expectancy in the United States.
By 2010, 5.5 million Americans lived to the age of 85+. It is estimated that by 2050, this 85+ age group will jump to 19 million Americans, or 5% of the total population, according to the Institute of Aging. However, those numbers will not be possible if this epidemic continues. President Trump declared the crisis, stating that is has caused two years of consecutive drops in the American life expectancy.
In October, President Trump also declared a national emergency just months after he took office, promising to do something about the issue. He announced in a recent speech that he will enact a several-pronged approach to combat the epidemic that includes prevention and treatment. He also plans to send warnings to culpable parties at all levels, from drug dealers to drug manufacturers. He promises that the administration will punish those who contribute to this horrible problem.
President Trump is reiterating his support for pursuing the death penalty for drug dealers in jurisdictions where that could be possible. As for drug manufacturers, he said he has instructed his Justice Department to consider ways to bring a federal lawsuit against the manufacturers that have pushed opioid prescriptions. “Whether you are a dealer, a doctor, or a manufacturer … we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will hold you accountable,” President Trump said during the speech in New Hampshire.