Prevent Opioid Abuse and Addiction Essay

Imagine feeling extremely uncomfortable because it has been several days without any of your drug fixes and you start shaking uncontrollably, but way more is yet to come. Next, you start becoming more irritable, stressed, and anxious. Then, you start getting intensely hot and sweaty which is followed by profuse vomiting. This is what it feels like to go through opioid addiction withdrawal. It is known that there are multiple stories surrounding the current opioid crisis on the news daily. Along with this, Americans hear about thousands of people dying every year due to heroin addiction and overdose. A large amount of the United States is addicted to prescription opioids due to the role of big pharma, doctors around the nation and also the United States government.

According to an article titled “Today’s Heroin Epidemic,” heroin is a highly dangerous, illegal narcotic that is usually injected, snorted, or smoked, it can lead to shallow breathing, coma, and death (Center for Disease Control). The Center for Disease Control also states that “heroin use has increased sharply across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels… increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes,” (“Today’s Heroin Epidemic”). An increase in the number of people addicted to and abusing opioids has created a large problem in the country, and in turn, has led to many challenges with mental and physical health issues.

Heroin is one of the most dangerous, illegal narcotics that has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans. Heroin is not a legal drug and is made Opioids, otherwise known as narcotics, come in many forms such as illegal heroin or prescription pills like Vicodin, OxyContin, Morphine, Codeine, and numerous others. According to an article written in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, from 1999 to 2010 the number of deaths related to opioid abuse and addiction skyrocketed to four times as many deaths, going from 4,300 in 1999 to more than 16,000 in 2010 (Reducing Fatal Opioid Overdose). If this statistic alone does not illustrate the impact of opioids on America, a graph from the KFF shows that in the united states 37,113 White, Non-Hispanic people died due to opioid abuse in 2017 which was followed by 5,513 deaths of black, Non-Hispanic people and also 3,932 Hispanics which brings the entire total for deaths related to opioids to 47,600 in 2017 alone (Opioid Overdose Deaths by Race/Ethnicity). This dangerously high number illustrates that opioids don’t discriminate, they impact the lives of thousands of people of every race.

Drug overdose is not something that is solely for the middle and lower classes. Hollywood sees multiple celebrities die every year due to opioids. For instance, in 2016 the famous singer Prince died from the abuse of Fentanyl while two years prior to that Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a Heroin overdose (American Addiction Centers). These two are just examples of the numerous celebrity lives taken by these powerful substances. Many more can be added to the list such as Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams, and Cory Montieth. Unlike the belief that certain drugs are only used by rich people or some by the poor, prescription pills and illegal opioids are abused by a wide range of people.

The opioid epidemic is believed to have begun in 1991. That is when the “first wave” began. Deaths involving opioids began to rise at this time, following a sharp increase in the prescribing of opioid and opioid-combination medications for the treatment of pain. Around this time is when pharmaceutical companies and doctors started overprescribing medication to people when it was not needed. “By 1999, 86% of patients using opioids were using them for non-cancer pain” (Liu, et al.). In the late ’90s, the main reason that opioids were prescribed was to relieve pain caused by cancer, however, this statistic shows that a shocking amount of patients using these medications did not have pain due to cancer. The main source of the “first wave” of opioid addiction is caused by doctors prescribing patients with medications that were considered unnecessary during that time period (Liu, PharmD, et al.). This put people into a mindset that these drugs should not be taken as seriously as they should be. If doctors prescribed patients for small pains then the drugs could not be that bad, yet that was not the case.

Not only have prescription opioids been taking a toll on the nation, but so has an illegal opioid known as heroin. The “second wave” of the opioid epidemic started around 2010 with a rapid increase in deaths from heroin abuse. Patients who had became addicted to prescription opioids turned to heroin when they were no longer being prescribed the opioids by their doctors. This led to the rise of heroin use by people with opioid addictions. Heroin overdose became more prevalent in a decade and increased rapidly in its danger. Any amount of death due to illegal drugs is something to be taken seriously, but when it gets to a certain extent “Deaths due to heroin-related overdose increased by 286% from 2002 to 2013, and approximately 80% of heroin users admitted to misusing prescription opioid before turning to heroin” (Liu, et al.). This proves that due to the abuse of prescription opioids that when patients stopped receiving them and they began having symptoms of withdrawal, they turned to illegal opioids such as heroin. Although the history of the heroin epidemic is still quite new it has had an even more destructive effect on the country than all other prescribed opioids.

There are multiple types of opioids that are generally over-prescribed and overused. However, some are more dangerous than others, for instance: Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone, Morphine, Codeine, and Fentanyl. According to CNN, Hydrocodone is considered to be the most commonly prescribed pain medication. Along with that, it is also considered to be a more powerful version of another opioid called Codeine (Opioid Crisis Fast Facts). Because of the strength of this drug and the effects it produces, it is highly addictive. When these drugs are prescribed, although not necessarily needed, they cause people to become dependent on them. Morphine is another one of the most prescribed pills, but is also given via IV or as a shot, and is very powerful and addictive. It is mainly prescribed when other painkillers are not working well enough. These drugs allow people to get used to the euphoric feeling caused by the drug. It was intended to be used specifically for the treatment of pain and not whenever they want to use it to get the same euphoric feelings. These different opioids are useful when used for the correct purpose, which is acute or chronic severe pain relief as prescribed by a doctor and not for minor pain and discomfort, which is what they are sometimes given for (CNN Library).

Although there is still a high death toll due to opioids the United States government is doing a lot to try and reduce the number of deaths occurring due to this epidemic. More recently the United States has implemented programs to help addicts cope with the addiction and overcome their addiction (Felter). Also, the government has granted $1 billion dollars to produce Naloxone, which is a drug that is used to counteract the misuse of opioids to help save the lives of people who would otherwise die from this, they also have required first responders to carry it with them to help in an emergency (Felter). The United States government is not punishing the victims of opioid addiction, they are helping them overcome it which used to not be the case and that led these addicts to not get the help they needed (Felter). Even though citizens might not be seeing the change there are plans being implemented, but it will take time to see a drastic change.

Drug overdose is not something that is solely for the middle and lower classes. Hollywood sees multiple celebrities die every year due to opioids. For instance, in 2016 the famous singer Prince died from the abuse of Fentanyl while two years prior to that Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a Heroin overdose (American Addiction Centers). These two are just examples of the numerous celebrity lives taken by these powerful substances. Many more can be added to the list such as Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams, and Cory Montieth. Unlike the belief that certain drugs are only used by rich people or some by the poor, prescription pills and illegal opioids are abused by a wide range of people.

So, in conclusion, there are numerous reasons why the nation has such a grave problem with opioid use, abuse, and addiction. It is due in part by the role of big pharma over advertising opioids, greedy doctors who exchange money for pills, the United States government, the lack of proper treatment by medical professionals, and the lack of addiction prevention and treatment by the United States government and medical professionals. This research illustrates the immense consequences that these drugs have on Americans when they are used improperly. Hopefully, this paper also demonstrates why the media is attempting to raise awareness of this very destructive drugs. Although the opioid epidemic is still happening to this day, there are things that the American government and medical professionals are implementing to attempt to put this crisis to a halt.

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Prevent Opioid Abuse and Addiction Essay. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved October 19, 2021 , from
https://studydriver.com/prevent-opioid-abuse-and-addiction-essay/

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