If you’ve been on the news recently and been able to get past the news about Trump’s administration and all of the sexual assault allegations, you’ve probably heard that the US is facing an Opioid crisis. With all of the crazy news that is going on, the Opioid crisis is commonly overlooked.
Since it’s not being covered very often in the media, the crisis probably isn’t that big of a deal, right? What if I were to tell you that Opioids are the deadliest drug crisis in American history? What if I were to tell you that Opioid overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in 2016? So, yes. It’s fair to say that the Opioid Crisis is a big deal.
When I think of “overdosing on drugs”, I think of a rock star in a bathroom passed out with a needle in his arm, but shockingly, this effects all types of people, and was actually started as an exploitation of people with chronic pain by pharmaceutical companies. In 1996, Oxycontin was put onto the market. Patients immediately became addicted and abused these prescribed drugs. When Oxy became harder to get prescribed with and more expensive, people started turning to something that would be a little easier to use: heroin. Because of doctors recklessly prescribing dangerous Opioids, patients have turned to heroin addicts.
In 2016, a new drug took over the Opioid world: Fentanyl. The 2016 data shows that Fentanyl overdoses were higher than both heroin and prescription overdoses combined.
Fentanyl is a very big problem in the US and just because it doesn’t get as much media coverage as other problems happening in our world, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be paying close attention to it. Luckily, there is a solution in sight. People are already addicted to Opioids, and I will address how to fix that later on, but we need to focus on how to prevent the next generation of potential drug abusers by only prescribing these drugs only if absolutely necessary. When I got my wisdom teeth out, they handed me a prescription for Percocet like it was no big deal, not to mention the large amount of pills that came in the prescription. I thought to myself how dangerous this would be if I was a person who had addictive behavior. The second thing we need to do is make addiction centers easily accessible. For those who are addicted, it is necessary that addiction help is more accessible than the drugs itself. Another thing that is being looked into and researched is prescription heroin, so that those who are already addicted and are going to do heroin regardless can take safe and government regulated doses to reduce the amounts of overdoses and death. Finally, we need to address and take care of what leads to drug addiction. Many things lead to addiction, but the most prominent is isolation, anxiety, and depression. If we create a better system to treat these mental disorders, there would be a decrease in addiction.
In conclusion, there is an end in sight and a clear path to end the Opioid crisis, but it is under-researched and under-funded. The Opioid crisis is a direct relationship to other problems happening in the US, companies exploiting vunerable people to buy their product, abusing prescription drugs to escape their world of depair, and the government turning a blind eye to problems because it would be too expensive to solve. The Opioid crisis is a very big problem in the US and we need to be paying close attention to it.