Sample Essay: Opioid Crisis in the US
Currently, the US is faced with the problem of the opioid crisis as tens of thousands of people die from a drug overdose every year. This epidemic has been described as the worst crisis in the American history of drug problems as about seventy thousand Americans died from drug abuse in 2017 only, with every third in this sad statistics having used heroin or other opioids.
Experts promise that if the situation remains unresolved, statistics will only get worse. Unfortunately, this problem is significantly aggravated by the fact that American physicians continue to prescribe opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, to anyone who complains of any chronic pain. Though the authorities are looking for ways and opportunities to maintain and find solutions to this situation, the rates related to prolonged opioid use continue to increase.
This paper discusses the problem of the opioid crisis in the US and suggests possible solutions to this situation.
Background and causes of the opioid epidemic in the US
Before proceeding to the discussion of possible solutions to the present opioid crisis in the US, one should look up what the opioid epidemic is. The term “opioid epidemic,” or “opioid crisis,” is generally referred to the growing number of deaths related to the uncontrolled use of prescription and non-prescription opioid analgesics.
This phenomenon is usually thought to have begun with over-prescription of opioids in the late 1990s when opioid drugs were widely used in the US to relieve acute and chronic pain.
To a large extent, this problem was facilitated by pharmaceutical companies that conducted advertising campaigns to promote supposedly “safe” painkillers encouraging physicians to prescribe these drugs. However, it became clear over time that those statements about low risks of dependence on opioids were not scientifically substantiated and did not correspond to reality. Due to the simpler access to medicinal opioids, an increasing number of people began to abuse these drugs and to use them for recreational purposes. This led to the fact that drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50 years, making America the country that has the highest percentage of drug-related deaths in the world.
Possible solutions to the problem of the opioid crisis in the US
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of calls to emergency services related to drug overdose increased by 30% in 45 US states in the last couple of years, with 54% of those having occurred in major cities.
- CDC experts note that such growth, comparable to the epidemic, can no longer remain unattended and requires a coordinated response.
- Emergency services, health departments, psychological services, public organizations, and law enforcement agencies must combine their forces and together resist the growth of opioid overdoses, which so often lead to death.
- Though there are several options for dealing with this problem, research suggests that five of those described below can be considered as the most effective.
- First and foremost, experts call on to discontinue over-prescribing opioid-containing medications. Now that the prescription for painkillers is easily obtained from a physician and insurance companies cover these costs in most cases, opioids have become the most popular drug category in the US. However, there are noticeable discrepancies upon closer examination between the amount of the prescribed drug and the actual medical need.
- Second, state and local governments are advised to bring data to the population on a dramatic increase in death rates related to drug overdoses, and, upon receiving the relevant permission from the police, to distribute antidotes such as Naloxone in local communities and families.
- Third, CDC calls on to treat opioid addiction as a health issue. Unfortunately, addiction is often considered as a moral defect or crime. Yet, it is a serious, chronic condition in reality, which should be treated as such and accordingly.
- Fourth, investments in harm reduction programs should be made. Since the opioid crisis erupted largely due to a lack of understanding of how to treat chronic pain, there is a need to increase the population’s awareness of adverse effects associated with the prolonged use of opioids.
- Finally, experts also call on federal authorities and law enforcement agencies to pay attention to the dramatic increase in opioid overdoses and, in addition to combating drug trafficking, to intensify educational work among the population, to provide local authorities with necessary equipment and antidote drugs, and to encourage and finance research aimed at preventing the opioid epidemic, at prescription drug monitoring, and at more effective drug addiction control.
The number of Americans dying from drug overdose is steadily increasing with each year. This sad statistics indicates that the US is faced with the opioid epidemic that has been described as the worst crisis in the American history of drug problems. Though the authorities are looking for ways and opportunities to maintain and find solutions to this situation, this problem, unfortunately, is significantly aggravated by the fact that American physicians continue to prescribe opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, to anyone who complains of any chronic pain.
Nevertheless, there are several ways to deal with the opioid crisis in the US such as to monitor drug prescriptions and to implement awareness-raising and educational work among the population on local and state levels. Though the research suggests that the rates related to prolonged opioid use continue to increase, these provide hope that the current dramatic situation can be resolved.