Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

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Updated: Jun 20, 2022
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The opioid crisis has been taking a toll on our nation. This issue is not new and has been continuing to grown the last few decades. It is time Congress steps up to the plate and come up with a solution to decrease the epidemic. This problem will not fix itself. The reasons on why the problem has developed, alternatives to the problem, supporters, and opponents of the alternative, and my recommendation.

The addiction to opioids which includes prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl (Collins, 2018).

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Opioid misuse is continuing to hurt Americans which is why members of Congress needs to address this issue now. Drug addiction and opioids are ravaging America, hundreds of thousands of people have tragically lost their lives and it continues to get worse. In 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans older than 12 years old reported a misuse of prescription opioids (“President Donald,” 2017). In a 14 year stretch from 2000 to 2014, the number of drug-dependent babies increased by a staggering 500%. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the national age-adjusted rate of opioid overdose deaths in 2015 was 10.4 deaths per 100,000 Americans. This is a huge problem that is affecting thousands of people every year. In 2016 only 66% of overdoses deaths involved an opioid (“Understanding,” 2017). Opioids are continually affecting citizens. Citizens are sometimes unaware of the epidemic that is going on right now. People are dying and Congress needs to look at trying to solve this growing problem. For a typical day an 115 Americans will die due to an opioid overdose In 2016 the number of deaths occuring by a overdose on opioids which includes prescription opioids and illegal opioids was 5 times higher than in 1999 (“Understanding,” 2017). At least 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses over the last 15 years,” (Combatting, 2016, p. 3). These numbers clearly show that Congress needs to address the problem before millions of more lives become impacted by this addiction.

Opioids have developed over time and they are not brand new. Drug abuse is very complex problem that has plagued our country for years. People in the United States have been taking, ingesting, or injecting opioids since the 19th century. Even Bayer, the company that makes Aspirin, used to sell heroin as a cough suppressant and pain reliever for kids in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This is when Congress finally passed the Smoking Opium Exclusion Act 1909. It is referred to as the first federal law against the use on nomedicla substances, and it also banned the importation of opium unless it was used strictly for medical purposes. It primarily targeted the Chinese working class who wanted to relax after a day of work (Newman, 2017). People continued to acquire these drugs even after these policies were put in place. Then drugs exploded in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This also lead to an increasing number of African American males in jail due to drug related charges. Since 2005 pharmacists have been working to offer lower doses and prescribing less to lower the risk for the addiction (Newman, 2017). Despite all these measures in 2014 almost 2 million people were dependent or abusing opioids. Also hospitals were seeing over 1000 visits due to misuse of opioid prescriptions (Newman, 2017). Many of these people are continuing to relapse even when they are entered into different programs and treatment options. This is why this addiction is so tough to overcome. It has been present since the 19th century and has been getting worse ever since. Congress needs to address some possible solutions to these problems. These problems have not gone away by themselves over the last 150 years so we need to reduce the damage that opioid addiction can cause.

There are multiple solutions to help address the problem of opioid misuse. Some policies that have been established are the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that were signed by Barack Obama (Katel, 2016), and President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017 (“President Donald,” 2017). President Trump’s declaration includes a few things to combat the opioid epidemic: it allows for expanded access to telemedicine services, gives states the ability to hire more substance abuse counselors, allows the Department of Labor to help workers who have been displaced by the opioid crisis by issuing them grants, and finally it allows for a shift of resources from the HIV/AIDS programs to help those addicted to opioids (“President Donald,” 2017). The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is a bipartisan law which was created to expand treatment programs and provide other alternatives to opioid painkillers. The law is for spending more than $180 million annually to address the opioid epidemic (Katel, 2016). Another proposed way to reduce the amount of overdose opioid deaths are to improve opioid prescribing, reduce exposure to opioids, prevent misuse, and treating the addiction (“Understanding,” 2017). Improving the way opioids are prescribed through guidelines will help patients have safer access to an effective pain treatment. Reducing the amount of opioids prescribed is a crucial part of the prevention process. The CDC published guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain for patients 18 years old and older. Recommendations focus on the chronic pain which is typically pain that persists for at least three months or past the time of a normal healing process (“Understanding,” 2017). Another way to minimize the risk associated with opioid addiction is for Congress to improve drug monitoring programs and improving state prescription drug laws. Finally the CDC is improving patient safety, educating the public, implementing effective strategies, and collaborating with public officials (“Understanding,” 2017).

The Republican Party and Democratic Party have both taken on stance when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic. Former President Obama established the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in July of 2016 which requests for spending in excess of $180 million annually to combat the opioid problem, but Democrats complained that the law was funded wrong because they wanted Congress to disbiture $920 million. Republicans at the time did not like these funding proposal and they wanted the funding to be dispensed annually (Katel, 2016). President Trump of the Republican Party, declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, but criticism occured from the Democrats because he did not request any energy funding from Congress. The two main solutions to fixing the opioid crisis are providing non-addictive alternatives painkillers and improving the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. This programme requires requires physicians to check the databases before presciioping the patient an opido. This was enacted to prevent doctor shopping which is the practice of visiting multiple physicians to obtain more opioids (Katel, 2016). Drug makers and other pharmaceutical interest groups are not in favor of this solution. The pharmaceutical industry has spent $880 million on lobbying since 2006 in effort to prohibit state regulation that would set limitations on prescription-writing (Yandle, 2016). Also according to (Yandle, 2016), the American Cancer Society are working for their members, to maintain unrestricted access to painkillers. While the pharmaceutical industry and cancer groups do not want action to be taken to restrict opioids, the government is trying to find a way to stop this epidemic.

There is not one solution to fixing the opioid epidemic. Former President Obama’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, the United States are steps to minimize the epidemic epidemic. Disrupting money to the different agencies and programs will slowly start to help the problem, Over $800 million dollars has been distributed for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction to help these struggling communities (“President Donald,” 2017). The other step that needs to be taken is providing a safer alternative painkiller. The opioid crisis will not be solved with one problem, but implementing these following solutions will drastically decrease the problem our country is being plagued with.

The opioid epidemic is one that has been plaguing the country for decades and it appears to be getting worse. The issue needs to be addressed by the government and they need to determine the best way to solve this problem. There are various solutions that Congress can utilize, but they need to act fast before more lives are lost.

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Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. (2022, Jun 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/drug-addiction-and-the-opioid-crisis/