Unintentional opioid poisonings took the lives of 998 North Carolinians in 2015, a 900% increase since 1999. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: for every unintentional opioid overdose death in NC, there are 3 hospitalizations, 4 ED visits, 432 people who are not using the opioid medication in the way intended, and over 9,000 prescriptions written for opioids. Several NC cities and counties have some of the highest rates of opioid abuse in the nation.
This public health crisis is taking a huge toll on families, communities, health systems, and federal, state, and local economies. In 2014, the total societal costs of the opioid epidemic in North Carolina reached an estimated $2 billion: $582 million in healthcare costs from opioid abuse and $1.5 billion in loss of future productivity and medical costs from overdose deaths. Much of this cost burdens our already under-resourced public systems and services.
The problem is enormous, but there are concrete, actionable steps that healthcare providers and systems can take to address this crisis and prevent overdose and other fallout from opioid misuse.
PDAAC’s goals are simple: reduce overdose deaths and reduce ED visits.