Opioid abuse more or less results in more than half a million years of life lost per year, a report by PsychCentral said.
The article, citing a research report published in the Addiction journal, said that was the extrapolated data based on opioid deaths in Canada.
"Overall, the study found that opioid drug deaths cost the people of Ontario, Canada 21,927 years of life in 2010," PsychCentral said.
It said the years lost were even greater than those lost to alcohol use (18,465 years), pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, or influenza.
"The authors point out that if you extrapolate the data to the population of the United States, 'where rates of opioid use, misuse and death are comparable to those in Canada,' the drugs would result in more than half a million years of life lost per year," it added.
The study did not just focus on the number of lives lost but the total years lost through the death of drug abusers.
The years lost were computed by subtracting the age of death to the average life expectancy of a country.
"Because opioids tended to kill younger people (median age 42), not only is the overall number of deaths high, but the years of life lost to drugs is staggering," the article said.
For example, a man who dies at the age of 30 years old lost 50 years if the average life expectancy was 80. On the other hand, a man who died after he turned 65 years old lost 15 years.
The study's authors concluded that "finding that one in eight deaths among young adults were attributable to opioids underlines the urgent need for a change in perception regarding the safety of these medications."
Because of the grave effects of opioid abuse in the country, much attention has been given to the development of opioids or painkillers that are not addictive or cannot be abused. Treatment of drug addiction is also continuously being developed.
Companies like BioCorRx Inc. (BICX, http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=BICX), for example, have found innovative ways to help patients deal with their addictions through both medication and psycho-social approaches.
BioCorRx, through its Start Fresh Program used by independent addiction clinics, offers naltrexone pellets which are inserted under the skin through a 30-minute outpatient procedure. Naltrexone, which has long been approved to treat alcohol and opioid addiction, blocks the part of the brain that feels euphoria or cravings upon the intake of such substances.
Because it is able to curb the craving for opioid or painkillers, naltrexone helps patients undergo life coaching sessions, counseling or other programs that help them plan for their future without substance abuse.