Skip to main content

Drug use is an issue that affects communities all over the United States — almost 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, making it one of the country’s leading causes of injury-related deaths, per the CDC. Two-thirds of overdose deaths involve opioids like heroin, fentanyl, or prescription opioids. PEW recommends US policymakers mimic steps taken by other countries to address opioid use disorder (OUD) and prevent drug-related deaths. Making medication like buprenorphine and methadone widely available can help people get effective treatment and, ultimately, save lives.

Prevent Overdose Deaths

Buprenorphine decreases deaths

Making medication like buprenorphine and methadone widely available can help people get effective treatment and, ultimately, save lives.

The heroin epidemic in France in the 1980s increased overdose deaths by 10% every year for a decade. While healthcare providers typically didn’t treat patients with OUD, clinicians were required to meet specific training and licensing standards before prescribing buprenorphine. Counselling (without medication) was provided solely in specialized centers. A 1995 policy change finally allowed French healthcare professionals to prescribe buprenorphine without specialized education or licensing. As such, roughly 65,000 patients were prescribed buprenorphine annually, creating a four-year 79% decrease in overdose deaths.

Policy change in the US 

US healthcare providers need special training before they can prescribe buprenorphine for OUD — something unnecessary for every other prescription drug. 20 million Americans struggle to access buprenorphine due to this federal rule. PEW recommends Congress pass a Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which eliminates training and licensing requirements and provides more Americans with buprenorphine. Not only does effective OUD treatment save lives, but it also keeps families together.

Each person's death leaves an average of five grieving people behind. Additionally, funeral costs — which average $9,000 — can be an unexpected source of financial strain. Burial insurance policies will pay a lump sum, tax free payment to the named beneficiary. There would be no restrictions on how the death benefit could be used.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Many well known life insurance companies provide these types of final expenses to consumers. Insurers like Gerber Life, Transamerica, Colonial Penn, and Mutual of Omaha have several options to consumers. Generally, it's a wise decision to compare the pricing and types of policies available through a consumer comparison website such as Burial Insurance Pro.

As such, burial insurance plans are a valuable investment that help beneficiaries cover funeral costs, Choice Mutual funeral insurance company advises. These policies never expire and provide quick cash payouts, which help bereft families cope with death’s financial burden.

Methadone treatment

Methadone helps roughly over 380,000 Americans with OUD every year. Despite this, it’s a highly-regulated drug only available at opioid treatment programs (OTPs). Conversely, healthcare providers in other countries are able to provide methadone. In 1998-99 in Edinburgh, Scotland, for example, 60% to 80% of people with OUD received methadone, compared to just 15% in the US. PEW suggests American policymakers make methadone more widely available via mobile methadone vans to help people regardless of their location.

Drug overdose deaths are a growing problem in the US. Policymakers must act to improve the availability of evidence-based medication already used worldwide to reduce overdose deaths and help people recover.