The US saw Life expectancy fall for the 2 nd year in a row for the first time in 10 years last year, a fall attributed to the burgeoning Opioid crisis in the country. According to the latest US government statistics, the epidemic has claimed 64,000 lives, a record for modern times and a figure that makes it one of the worst in the world for deaths by overdose. The rise of numbers of people addicted to Heroin is particularly disturbing and is attributed to them turning to the drug after getting hooked on prescription opioids for pain.
A US citizen born in 2017 is now expected to live for 78.6 years, comparable to 78.7 in 2016 and 78.9 in 2015 according to the latest figures from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). These figures fly in the face of more than 10 years of rising life expectancy in the USA and the blame is being placed squarely at the feet of drug overdose deaths. To put these figures into perspective, in 1999, less than 17,000 people died as a result of drug overdoses. In 2016, the rate of drug overdoses was nearly 20 people per 100,000. This shocking figure showed a 21% increase on the previous year, proof that the crisis is spiralling out of control.
The declaration of a public health epidemic by Donald trump in 2016 has seen US policy makers struggle to cope, mainly because litigation is not the answer. The answer lies in local authorities being given the financial means to set up rehabilitation and addiction clinics. This has yet to happen. Tragically, many Authorities, especially in the southern states, are struggling to fund the growing need for increased morgue capacity, a sure sign that the trend for this epidemic is on the rise. West Virginia saw the highest rates of overdose last year, with a death rate of 52 per 100,000. This figure is unimaginable 10 years ago.
The lack of any real funding for the above services has led to a huge rise in numbers of rehabilitation and addiction clinics in Mexico, where desperate addicts seeking help in the US are forced to turn. These clinics, though expensive, are often the only option for people struggling with issues rising from opioid and Heroin abuse. An even sadder trend is the growing number of fake clinics run as money spinning scams with no history of success or background in medicine.
Notable and infamous scams include the Ibogaine Clinic, run by Jonathan Dardashti out of Cancun, Mexico. Despite multiple convictions and US Government investigations for tax evasion and money laundering, his unlicensed clinic, and others like it, seem to operate with impunity outside the law. Many of these clinics (his included) are shut down by the Mexican authorities only to reappear days later in a new location less than a mile away.
The problem Faced by the US this year is one of funding. With the Fed in shutdown, there does not seem to be any light on the horizon for rehabilitation and addiction clinics when teachers and members of the armed forces are not even getting paid. Without a concerted, bipartisan effort to free up funds by the authorities on a national level, national disgraces like the Jonathan Dardashti Ibogaine scam and the soaring rate of deaths by overdose will continue unchecked.