Well, who knew? You may have missed it again. Didn’t you know that June 26 was International Day Against Drug Abuse? To be honest, most people missed it, including the people who use opiates and heroin and those who work in opiate drug rehabilitation treatment. Way back in December 1987, the United Nations General Assembly declared its intention to “combat the drug menace and…[tackle] the serious and international drug problem in all its forms” by establishing June 26 as the International Day Against Drug Abuse. It’s the first we’ve heard of it.
There’s even a website for the occasion. When you visit the website, you’ll see a link for “events” on the left-hand side of the page. But when you click on that link, the only event you’ll find is the publication of the 2015 World Drug Report, which addresses the spread and treatment of drugs of all kinds and in all places, including opiate drug rehabilitation treatment in America.
You can download the report and click the right-hand bottom of your screen to convert it into a PDF document, which renders it easily searchable. It’s full of interesting facts about drug use, including information for people in opiate drug rehabilitation treatment. Here’s some of what it has to say:
World Drug Report 2015
According to this United Nations report, drug use in the world has remained stable. It states that 246 million people living on the planet—which represents one out of every 20 people between 15 and 64 years of age—used some kind of illicit drug at least once in the year 2013. That represents an increase of 3 million people over the prior year, but because worldwide population has increased, the percentage has remained stable.
However, half of those people fall into a category defined as “problem drug users,” meaning they suffer from some kind of substance use disorder. That can include any kind of drug dependence including those in opiate drug rehabilitation treatment. Approximately 27 million people—just about the entire population of Malaysia—are problem drug users. Half of those people inject drugs (12.9 million), and 12 percent of them suffer from HIV/AIDS (1.65 million).
While the report states that drug use has remained stable, there’s a table that charts the rise or fall of drug categories, and each of them fluctuates here and there between 2009 and 2013 but overall pretty well maintains its own course. You can look at this graphic on page 12 of the report, in the Executive Summary. The drug categories include amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, the “Ecstasy” group, opiates, and opioids.
Are you wondering what the difference is between opiates and opioids? Opiates are the drugs that come directly from nature, such as opium and heroin. Opioids refer to the drugs created in labs, such as the pain pills that cause trouble for so many. In common reference, the group opioids includes the subgroup opiates. Methadone treatment programs offer services for people who abuse either.
Using an index of 100 based from the year 2009, there are three categories of drugs that dropped between 2009 and 2013: amphetamines, cocaine, and the “Ecstasy” group. The categories that increased or remained the same included cannabis—and opioids, as well as opiates. That means that demand for opioid or opiate drug rehabilitation treatment far exceeds treatment needed for any other drug. Alcohol is not included in this particular graphic.
Opiate Drug Rehabilitation Treatment Statistics
Worldwide, one-third of drug users are women, according to the report. Unfortunately, only one out of five female problem drug users seeks out any type of help.
That number is pretty well substantiated through information published by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. NIDA claims that drugs are more available to men, but once women stick a toe into the murky waters of drug use they more quickly fall into the pond. In addition, women are slower to seek out help, including opiate drug rehabilitation treatment. They often reach out tentatively, by talking to family physicians that dismiss their worries, or they go to mental health clinics, where they can get help with emotional issues but no help with addiction.
Most opium production takes place in Afghanistan. Looking at a graphic on page 15 of the report, Mexican opium production pales in comparison—but for those in America, opiate drug rehabilitation centers are filled with people whose drugs came over the borders from Mexico and Colombia. Total global opium production among all countries rose from just over 4,000 tons in 1998 to 7,500 tons in 2014.
The section on use of opiates and opioids in the United States and Canada presents some disturbing information, but nothing surprising for the people who run opiate drug rehabilitation treatment centers. According to the statistics, there was a decrease in 2013 in people addicted to pain pills, with an increase in those addicted to opiates. This has resulted from a decreased access to pain pills—so doctors are paying attention—that unfortunately sends people in search of heroin.
In the United States, between 2004 and 2013, heroin purity, price, and hospital-related admissions all remained relatively stable. Heroin-related poisoning deaths increased by about 50 percent, and heroin-related hospital admissions jumped on the chart from the 100 percent baseline up to 450 percent. The good news in that fact, if you think about it, could be that our hospitals have become more effective at treatment of those who come in from opiate or opioid drug overdoses. Narcan is more readily available.
Effectiveness of Treatment
The World Drug Report confirms what many talking heads in this country have been arguing about: Drug treatment is worth the cost. While many people argue that drug users belong in jail, the World Drug Report estimates that methadone maintenance treatment for opiate drug rehabilitation treatment averages $4,700 per person per year, compared with a full year spent in prison at $18,400.
One reason why it’s so difficult to ascertain the actual cost-benefit ratio is that most drug abuse treatment is sporadic and episodic. That means the person seeks out drug treatment for a short time or resulting from a specific incident. The report singles out methadone programs where opiate drug rehabilitation treatment takes place because the treatment is long-term and steady, and the cost-benefit ratio becomes easy to recognize. While different organizations may have cited different numbers, this United Nations reports estimates the cost-to-benefit ratio, comparing the costs not only with recovery but also with reduction in crime and an increase in health and productivity, to be at 13 dollars realized for every dollar spent. That makes methadone treatment a pretty good return on investment.
How Can We Measure Success?
The World Drug Report states that success for the person in drug or opiate drug rehabilitation treatment occurs when they can demonstrate:
- Reduction in drug use, assessed at intervals after active treatment is completed.
- Improved personal health and wellness.
- Improved psychological and spiritual health.
- Improved social functioning, such as employment and family relationships.
- Reduced or eliminated criminal activities.
- Reduced incidence of infectious disease.
Going into opiate drug rehabilitation treatment is not an easy decision, but the results are worth it. The people who go into it and stay with it enjoy a better quality of life. In terms of the worth representing lives saved or changed, your local methadone treatment program can change your lifestyle, and life will improve—for you, your loved ones, and your children.
Coming in a few months will be National Recovery Month, which takes place every September. We’ll talk about that in this space, so you can think of ways you’d like to celebrate it.