May 21, 2019 - Health

Opioid addiction is drastically undertreated

In this image, a woman leans over her knees while sitting on a park bench.

A homeless person with heroin use disorder in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Of the 2.1 million people who reported using heroin or abusing painkillers in 2017, only 680,000 sought treatment at reporting treatment facilities, according to a new USAFacts report.

Where it stands: That translates to only about 32% receiving treatment.

Details: Among those who said they needed treatment but did not receive it, cost was the most common reason.

  • In the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 41% of respondents said they didn't have health insurance, their insurance didn't cover addiction treatment, or their cost-sharing was unaffordable even if they had coverage.

The bottom line: America's opioid problem is going to remain out of control until treatment becomes more available, and we make more of an effort to connect people with it.

Go deeper: The opioid epidemic is a global issue

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