Responsible Investing joins the fight against the opioid crisis

The rampant opioid crisis – involving escalating addictions to opioid prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl – has taken a toll on many American communities. Sadly, the human impacts are widespread and devastating.

  • Overdose deaths from prescription opioids have increased five-fold from 2000 to 2016.

  • Opioids accounted for more than 60% of overdose deaths in 2014, according to data from the CDC.

  • The number of opioid prescriptions exceeds the population in some U.S. states.

An entirely man-made epidemic

Today’s opioid crisis traces its roots to the late 1990s when certain pharmaceutical companies misled the medical community into believing patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, encouraging doctors to prescribe opioids to treat all kinds of pain. Healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.

Today, one out of five patients with non-cancer pain or pain-related diagnoses are now being prescribed opioids in office-based settings. The CDC reports that roughly a quarter of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Not surprisingly, there has been a related surge in the use of heroin and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. According to the CDC, about 80% of

people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids, indicating that the transition from prescription opioid use to illicit drug use may be part of the progression of addiction.

 

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