Epidemic vs. Pandemic

woman wearing mask in town because of the epidemic vs pandemic

People often see the word ‘epidemic’ in relation to drug overdoses. Today, they also know the word ‘pandemic’ from reports about the spreading of COVID-19 or the coronavirus. Epidemic vs. pandemic: it might seem that a pandemic is more severe than an epidemic, but it carries a different weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in 2018 over 67,000 people died of a drug overdose. Compare that to a total of 15,219 COVID-19 reported cases, as of March 21, 2020, and 201 deaths in the U.S.

Many more people die each year from drug overdoses without the help of professional drug detox centers than may ever succumb to COVID-19, yet, the coronavirus is a pandemic. What does that mean?

What is an Epidemic?

Epidemic refers to the rapid spread of disease in a short time, occurring in a given population like the United States. It is the escalation of opioids deaths that makes this an epidemic.

In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began telling healthcare providers that opioids were safe to use. They were not addictive and provided the best option when it came to pain relief.

The information coming from the manufacturers of opioid pain medications was false. Not only are these drugs habit-forming, but a person also becomes dependant very quickly. The misinformation from drug companies encouraged an increase of prescriptions for opioid medications and eventually, the widespread use of these drugs. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the escalation of drug use a public health emergency.

It’s it the rapid escalation and wide effects on society that makes this an epidemic, though. In 2001, physicians issued a reported 14 million prescriptions for the opioid OxyContin, up from 316,000 in 1996. Fourteen million prescriptions mean about 3 billion dollars in drug sales.

In 1999, there were less than 20,000 drug overdose deaths nationwide. By 2011, that number was up to 38,329. In 2017, it jumped to over 70,000. In other words, in less than 10 years, drug overdose deaths more than tripled.

If you’re suffering from addiction, reach out to a prescription drug or opioid detox center for help.

What is a Pandemic?

When looking at epidemic vs. pandemic, the significant difference is the population affected and the type of disease. A pandemic involves a disease, just like an epidemic, but one that has spread over multiple continents.

Pandemics are generally viral or bacterial, which is a major epidemic vs. pandemic difference. A good example is influenza. It starts in one country, and then people move around and spread it. If one man carrying the influenza virus travels from the United Kingdom to the United States, he potentially infects each person he comes in contact with along the way. That includes the woman he spoke to at the airport, the man who checked his boarding pass, and the flight attendant.

Pandemics start as epidemics and then jump from country to country. To be labeled a pandemic, though, there must be a global outbreak of an infectious disease that can spread from person to person or even from animal to animal or animal to person.

Cancer is a disease that exists in every country, but it is not infectious. Therefore, there is no cancer pandemic. There can, however, be a cancer epidemic in one part of the country if the residents there all start coming down with the same form of the disease.

Getting Help for an Epidemic vs. Pandemic

As people watch to see how COVID-19 will continue to impact the world, it’s essential to understand the difference between epidemic vs. pandemic. Your health and safety are critical during times of pandemic.  Contact Summit Detox by calling 866.341.0638 to begin addiction treatment with drug and alcohol detox.

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