The world has become increasingly more knowledgeable throughout the course of history regarding the field of medicine. Many plagues viruses and diseases have swept the globe over decades that have past throughout history. Prior to these catastrophic events humanity has come to learn from mistakes and procedures that can be done to prevent further disaster and damage to the world. Vaccines, medications, and sanitation requirements are just a few of many implementations that have been added to make humanity safer from the hundreds of thousands of diseases that are to come. While the world has been extremely focused and preventing further illness and death and silent killer has been traveling underneath the radar claiming the lives of many who were unfortunate victims of something that was specifically designed to help them. Opioids have been the worlds silent killer over the years. Opioids are a type of pain medication prescribed to patients to help them manage pain after a surgery or a major injury. Originally designed to help patients and improve recovery, this plan has taken a wrong turn and led to major consequences. “Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.” (January 2019) Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis. One-hundred and thirty Americans alone each day are unfortunate victims to this epidemic that is becoming a bigger problem as this addiction continues to grow. However, this epidemic did not just occur out of nowhere. It is something that has started out so small and not been monitored correctly that it has become a problem that needs to be solved quickly.
As the world entered into the late 1990’s the first way of the opioid epidemic struck. However, prior to the first wave this claim was made “pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers.” (January 22, 2019) Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html. Once this claim was released health care providers began to prescribe opioids at a greater rate country wide. Due to the increased prescription of opioid medications for prescribed and non-prescribed led to the misuse of intake which then became clear that these medications can in fact led to addiction. “From 1999- 2017 700,000 people have died from an opioid drug overdose.” (December 19, 2018) Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html.
With the increase of in the number of opioids now prescribed at a greater rate also increase the percentage of addiction world-wide. Any type of medication poses a risk of addiction when being consumed. However, the problem that the doctors and physicians are faced with is determining who is at a greater risk. Many recent findings have helped in the process of elimination in determining what factors pose as a greater risk. An article published by mayo clinic in February 16, 2018 states that “A few additional factors — genetic, psychological and environmental — play a role in addiction, which can happen quickly or after many years of opioid use.” Addiction does not just occur all at once. It can happen in my different frames of time. Addiction with opioids can occur within a short amount of time if taken an increased dose. A long-term addiction can occur if the opioid medication is continued long after the stop date has come and passed. The disagreement that many are faced with is how can the opioid addiction be prevented and stopped.
As the rise in the opioid epidemic cases continues to occur many groups have met together to research ways to implement safety measures to slow the rise in increases of epidemics. One of the major controversial decisions that has yet to be put in place is a cut back on the amount of prescriptions that can be prescribed. One major setback with opioids is monitoring the pain level. Opioids main purpose is to help increase the release of endorphins that change the way the body calculates and monitors pain through a chemical and nervous system level. Endorphins are released and caused what is called the “pleasure effect.” Endorphins cause the body to feel pleasurable effects which is why the pain is not measure at such a high level while taking opioids. The addiction to opioids comes from this effect. The human brain enjoys feeling these happy pleasurable feelings, which is why many patients will continue to take opioids after the time has passed for patient to discontinue the medication. No one enjoys feeling pain, sadness, and unhappiness. Opioids cause the opposite of these effects and the human brain will tell the body that it wants those feelings again. However, unfortunately the brain can build up a tolerance to such effects that as of opioids. The effects that come from taking them will not feel as a high of a level when first starting. This is the main cause of the opioid epidemic, as the effects start to feel less to the patient, they will normally increase their dosage or transition to a new type of drug. Normally increasing the dosage of opioids is the most common pattern among patients. Patients will take more than prescribed of their medication or will visit several doctors and get multiple prescriptions of medication to help increase the endorphin feeling back up to what the brain considers normal.
There are much controversial opinions regarding the regulations that need to be set in place to control the rate at how the epidemic is controlled. There are many who disagree with regulations because opioids are the most effect treatment from chronic pain in cancer treatments. Chronic or breakthrough pain with cancer patients is very common. This is one of the main reason’s opioids were created. Pain is a very common symptom with most major illnesses that are common around the world. Opioids are prescribed to help patients with cancer monitor their pain and help them live as normal of a life with the condition they face as possible. However, a problem that doctors are faced is regarded how pain is monitored. Doctors must complete rely upon trusting their patients if they claim that the dosage of opioids, they are on are not relieving the pain they suffer from. Doctors will normally prescribe a higher dosage of medication if the patient claims that it is not completely reliving the pain. This is where the difference of opinions begins to split, and a question arises. How many of the patients are truly suffering from pain and how many are developing an addiction?
Prescribing opioids to help cancer patients regulate their pain is the most beneficial and effective treatment that has been created. Many patients suffer from chronic and breakthrough pain and make recovery from treatment seem impossible. A large sum of patients continue opioid pain treatment for most of their live without overdosing and are able to monitor their pain and continue to live a happy life. It’s the small group of people that begin to have complications were tensions arise. Trust is a very valuable thing in the medical profession. When a doctor nurse or surgeon is responsible for a patient’s life it is incredibly important the trust continues to go both ways, which is why controversy arises when a patient asks for an increase dose of opioids to help monitor pain. Opioids are used to help a patient get through a specific time period to deal with pain and eventually discontinue medication and not have to take medication anymore. Furthermore, in certain circumstances when medication is needed to increase it only poses as putting that patient at a greater risk to develop an addiction. The medical board is faced with a tough decision on whether to increase regulations on opioids or keep them at the current situation they are currently under.
In conclusion, opioids are considered an incredible medical breakthrough and miracle. Opioids have helped thousand of patients worldwide live normal lives and not live in constant pain every day. With every innovation and invention in the medical world will bring positives and negatives. Medications will help many reach a normal life and continue to life happily and will also unfortunately cause addiction and many innocent peoples lives to end increasing faster than anticipated. Where the world lakes in improvements is where and when to draw the lines and develop safety measures to prevent disaster in the future. If this problem is pursued and a solution is found to make millions safter the world will continue to push forward and happy and healthy lives.
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