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This Was the Top Health Story in 2018

Posted On: 01-04-2019
This Was the Top Health Story in 2018
In a year filled with healthcare developments and news, there is one topic that appeared to capture the most headlines and profoundly impact many Americans: the rates of opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths. Many opioid-related deaths are among young adults, and many are linked to fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin.

In fact, rates of fatal overdoses related to opioids have nearly doubled over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For three years in a row, the average life expectancy rate in the U.S. dropped (from 79 years in 2014 to 78.6) after years of trending upward.

This serious national health crisis impacts public health, economic welfare, and social welfare. The economic burden of prescription opioid abuse in the United States is $78.5 billion per year, accounting for healthcare costs, addiction treatment, criminal justice involvement, and lost productivity (according to DrugAbuse.gov).

As a new development in 2018, the HEAL Initiative was launched by the National Institutes of Health. HEAL stands for Helping to End Addiction Long-term and is an agency focused on accelerating scientific solutions to the national opioid crisis. These focuses will include implementation science, study of neurological pathways involved in addiction, behavioral interventions, effective pain management, and more.

Other popular healthcare topics for 2018 included vaping, marijuana use, the Affordable Care Act, and cancer screenings.

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