Have you ever wondered which substance, drug or addictive disorder is the most deadly of all? Unfortunately, the answer is in: Opioid addicts have a higher risk of death compared to other drugs and alcohol according to a new research study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) that was published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.
The study tracked 800,000+ patients that were hospitalized for substance misuse during the 15 year time span from 1990 to 2005, and, of those studied, more than 188,000 passed away during the time span. The patient who had an opioid dependence diagnosis were 5.71 times more likely to die than healthy individuals. In second place were patients with a methamphetamine (“crystal meth”) addiction. Third place was claimed (surprisingly to me) by marijuana, fourth by alcohol & fifth by cocaine.
Dr. Russell Callaghan, a scientist who led the research study, explained, “One reason for undertaking this study was to examine whether methamphetamine posed a particular threat to drug users, as it has been called ‘America’s most dangerous drug.’ The risk is high, but opioids are associated with a higher risk. We also wanted to compare mortality risks among several major drugs of abuse, as this comparison hasn’t been done on this scale before.” It was alcohol dependence that affected the highest number of people overall with 166,482 deaths and 582,771 hospitalizations over the research period. “One surprising finding was the high rate of death among cannabis users,” Dr. Callaghan says in unison with my own surprise. “There could be many potential reasons, including the fact that they may have other chronic illnesses such as psychiatric illnesses or AIDS, which can also increase the risk of death.”
With research now showing us that opioid addiction is the most deadly addictive disorder, our calls for the expansion and public support of evidence-based medication-assisted treatments for opioid dependence and addiction must grow stronger and louder than ever. There is NO greater time for us to expand access to the most effective treatment for opioid dependence available in upper Eastern Tennessee and the Tri Cities area – an area that to date has seen its opioid dependent residents be forced to travel close to (or more than) 2 hours ONE WAY to access the life-saving and life-restoring treatment. The time for a medication-assisted opioid treatment program in Johnson City, Tennessee is NOW.