Opioid Addiction – The 80% Rule We Can Never Forget

I have poured over a great deal of data regarding the opioid crisis in this country and none of these facts and figures are particularly good or even encouraging. In fact, whether by coincidence or due to the fact that this is still such a one-sided battle, the 80% figure keeps popping up in a variety of stats.

For example, George Will writes that 80% of the hard drugs in this country are consumed by 1% of the population.

A number of individuals and entities have reported that the key to success in this battle is to focus on winning a more manageable 80% of this battle, as any more than this figure would seem to be impossible.

I have even seen the other side of this equation mentioned in the context of only focusing rehab efforts on the 20% of this population that really wants help.

And how about this scary fact that is a sign of our times? 80% of new heroin users today started out using prescription painkillers. This compares to the 1960’s, when 80% of the new users of heroin began with heroin. So, our prescription painkillers are creating an entire new population of heroin users and ultimately addicts.

Here’s another sobering fact. Approximately 80% of the world’s global supply of opioids is consumed in the U.S.

I could really go on and on, and I will in future posts, but for now the 80% stat I want to focus on here is this: 80% of opioid users that enter rehab for the first time relapse within the first six months. That’s right, there is an 80% failure rate for individuals that have made the momentous, life-changing step of entering rehab for the first time. Instead of giving up and growing weary with this realization, we need to shout it from the rooftops (or social media sites) for all to hear. This 80% figure is one everyone in our country needs to hear and remember and here is why:

  • Our nation needs to know this in order to recognize that our current treatments are outdated and not working.
  • Our country also needs to remember this to get past some of the stigma of addiction. Success in the endeavor of beating addiction is obviously very difficult to come by and no one should be labeled as, “weak-minded” or, “not really trying” because they were not initially successful with their rehab.
  • Support groups of individuals fighting addiction need to remember this so they do not give up on a friend or loved one’s battle after a relapse. This is exactly when one should be encouraged to win the war, even after losing the battle.
  • And finally, those individuals themselves fighting addiction need to know that this will be a long fight; to not give up hope and to keep battling, even after several relapses. This does not mean they can’t be successful…it simply means they need to try again.

So there it is…approximately 80% of rehab attempts end in relapse. We need to know this; we need to own this and we need to do better. Please share this message and information as we need all of the assistance possible to start reducing this number and winning this battle.

Thank you for your support!



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