Dear Pharmacies and Health Care Workers,
“Painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are the most abused prescription drugs. These drugs can produce effects similar to heroin”(Turning point center). Heroin. No one would prescribe Heroin, so why are we prescribing these other drugs? Pharmacies and Health Care Workers produce and prescribe painkillers knowing the harmful risks.
Based on our research we found that opioids/painkillers cause a lot as harm as well as good and now it is time for pharmacies and health care workers to stop prescribing opioids as pain killers because of the dismal effects it has on patients.
Opioids/painkillers have impacted children’s lives in a negative way. In an article titled “Opioid pills ‘are like guns’: More than 13,000 children were poisoned during six-year period” by Ariana Eunjung Cha, she talks about how drugs are surpassing the death rate of guns. Ariana Eujung Cha brings up the fact that many children are getting opioids and it’s negatively affecting their health. She writes “According to an analysis of discharge papers collected every three years from a representative sample of pediatric hospitals nationwide, 13,052 children were hospitalized for poisonings from opioid prescriptions of Oxycodone, Percocet, codeine and the like during six years between 1997 to 2012. Of those, 176 died” (Cha). Opioids are affecting these kids in such impactful ways. We need these pain killers to stop being prescribed or their needs to be a change in what goes into the opioids so it does not continue to hospitalize children and take their lives too.
Not only do opioids hospitalize children but it also changes peoples lives in a terrible way. In the article titled “Former homeless addict now working with drug task force in San Francisco ” by Maureen Kelly, they talk about how this father now works with a drug task force to come up with ideas on how to handle the drug crisis that’s currently happening. The article is more of an interview so the father himself brought up the fact that he had easy access to drugs.The author states “The married father of two says an injury for which he was prescribed oxycodone sent him down the rough road of addiction. He lost his family and his job and turned to a life centered around the corner of Golden Gate and Hyde where hard drugs are easily bought and sold” ( Kelly). He put his trust into the hospital, hoping to heal from an injury but in the end he became a drug addict. This is why health care workers should not prescribe these pain killers or they should substitute painkillers with something else as helpful but less likely to make someone become addicted to drugs. This father is no longer a drug addict; he overcame his addiction. But what about the people who haven’t; the people who can’t speak up about what happened to them because they are currently addicted. We need painkillers to stop being prescribed in general, or we want them to be substituted with something else that’s beneficial to a person but wont make them a drug addict and ruin their life.
We hypothesized that not a lot of participants would have proper knowledge on drugs. My group and I designed a survey to learn more about our community regarding drugs. We made a 15 question survey and had 20 responses. The results of our survey showed that the majority of our participants know or knew somebody who abuses drugs. Drugs not only affect the person abusing but also the family and friends of that person. This survey brought up the fact that our community needs more knowledge in how to help people who overdose, 60% of the participants don’t know what to do when someone overdoses.
Figure 1: Percent of participants that know how to help in an overdose. We asked 20 people if they knew how to help when someone overdoses and 60% said no. This is significant because people need more education and overdoses are common.
Figure 2: Number of people who know someone who currently uses or used drugs. Out of 20 participants around 17 said they know someone who used or uses drugs. That’s more than half.This is significant because it shows us how big of an issue drug use is.
Figure 3: How our participants think drugs have impacted Oakland. About 15 of our participants think drugs have caused Oakland to have more homelessness. Also about 10 of our participants think it’s made people more violent. This is significant because homelessness is already a big issue in Oakland and drug abuse adds to it. If we handle drug abuse then maybe homeless will begin to decrease.
Based on research the best way to be a health advocate is by educating our community and conducting more research on the opioid crisis.
Aim #1 Virtual: Educate the community, health workers, and pharmacies.
After getting the survey responses back I noticed that our community needs more education on how to help someone during an overdose. Over half of our participants know someone who used or used drugs and more than half don’t know how to help during an overdose. Educating our community on how to help people that overdose can help us overcome that knowledge gap of not knowing how to help. Educating everybody about the downside of painkillers can help us overcome children and adults being hospitalized due to painkillers and getting addicted to drugs. To educate our community, health workers included, I’m going to make two separate flyers. The first with information on how to help someone that is overdosing which is for everyone. The second one is specifically for healthcare workers and pharmacies, regarding the fact that painkillers aren’t as good as they make them to be. I’m going to post this information on my social media so I can get word out to more people. This aim costs no money, but getting people to actually look and read what I posted would be difficult.
Aim #2 Without shelter in place: Speak to pharmacies and healthcare workers and put the flyers in other places outside.
I want to specifically talk to pharmacies and health care workers because I want more information on why they still make and prescribe these opioids even though people get addicted and hospitalized. I also want to talk to them in person so I can be that voice for other people that have had a bad experience with opioids/painkillers. I’m going to start by putting the flyers I made outside and by pharmacies and hospitals so they can see them quicker. I then want to reach out to some pharmacies and healthcare workers and talk to them in person. Some challenges I expect to face is not being able to talk to them in person, but even putting flyers out physically would be a good start for me.
Aim #3 With no limits: Have research be put into painkillers, have painkillers be switched with marijuana to lessen the chances of becoming addicted to drugs.
Opioids/painkillers have negative effects on people’s health even though they are supposed to be helpful. Without any limitations I want for research to be put into why painkillers cause addiction. Once there is more information on why these painkillers cause addiction we can change what goes into painkillers to lessen the chances of hospitalizations and addiction. During the research process the painkillers/opioids are still going to be prescribed to people so instead of painkillers/opioids being prescribed, we want marijuana to be a substitute painkiller. Substituting painkillers with marijuana is going to lessen the numbers of hospitalizations and addiction for prescribed drugs.
We plan on measuring success by seeing how many people view my story and by seeing if anybody reposts the flyers on their social media too. I will also know if we were successful if we were able to get through to pharmacies and health care workers by being able to talk to them in person.
Thank you for listening to my concern regarding prescribed painkillers. We hope that you read thoroughly and listen to what I’m saying so we can reduce the number of drug addictions and hospitalizations.
Cha, A. E. (2016, October 31). Opioid pills ‘are like guns’: More than 13,000 children were poisoned during six-year period. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/10/31/opioid-pills-like-guns-more-than-13000-children-were-poisoned-during-six-year-period/
Former homeless addict now working with drug task force in … (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2020, from https://www.kron4.com/san-francisco-homelessness/former-homeless-addict-now-working-with-drug-task-force-in-san-francisco/
Mackintosh, C. (2013, June 20). Top 10 most abused drugs. Retrieved May 08, 2020, from https://turningpointcenters.com/2013/06/20/top-10-most-abused-drugs/