Name: James Ziegeweid
From: Arcadia, Wisconsin
Grade: Senior
School: Arcadia High School
Votes: 1 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign - Our American Opioid Crisis

Our American Opioid Crisis

At
twenty years old, Ann Marie's son Christopher was a great student and
a talented baseball player. He had his whole life in front of him and
was set up for a successful future. However, after he was involved in
a car crash, Christopher was prescribed opioids to help ease the back
pain he was experiencing. Christopher quickly became addicted and
went from taking one pill every day, to twenty-five pills every day.
Everything that he had previously cared about, getting A's in school
and improving his batting average, no longer mattered to him. All
Christopher cared about was getting his next fix of opioids. He was
addicted. Christopher's mother tried to get him help, admitting him
to a variety of different treatment facilities. However, this was all
to no avail. Christopher eventually overdosed and died when he was
only twenty-two years old. He had his whole life in front of him and
suddenly it was destroyed by his addiction Unfortunately, this sort
of story is coming all too common. I believe the United States of
America's opioid crisis is due to the overprescription of opioids,
which has lead to addiction that has destroyed the lives of hundreds
of thousands. Opioid addiction ruins the lives of individuals who are
addicted and as a society, we are forced to spend billions of dollars
per year in order to help treat the addiction. In order to remedy
this crisis, the number of opioids prescribed per year needs to be
reduced, with less addictive painkiller alternatives being more
widely prescribed.

Our
nation is currently dealing with a serious opioid crisis. According
to the United States Center for Disease Control, 702,000 people died
from an overdose between 1999 and 2017. The United States of America
is dealing with this serious addiction crisis due to the fact that
addictive opioids have been overly prescribed which often leads to
those who are prescribed these opioids becoming addicted. There are
major consequences for those who become addicted to opioids. Opioids
create artificial endorphins, which block pain and make those who
consume them feel good. Once a person becomes addicted, they become
dependent on the opioid and often times it is all that they can think
about. As in Cristopher's and many other cases, some who continue to
feed their addiction unfortunately die from overdoses. Although these
individuals try and get help through addiction treatment centers,
there is still a 72 to 88% relapse rate after 12-36 months of
detoxification according to the United States Library of Medicine.
Not only does the addiction destroy the lives of those who are
addicted, but it also puts a major burden on our society. The White
House recently released an article which detailed that the opioid
addiction crisis cost the United States $696 billion dollars in 2018
and $2.5 trillion from 2015 to 2018. This crisis has had a serious
negative effect on the economy as our nation spent $205 billion on
healthcare for those who are addicted, with each visit after an
overdose costing around $11,731. This not only drains the bank
accounts of those individuals who are addicted, but also costs us as
a society. According to the National Institute of Health, nearly
sixty-six percent of patients treated for opioid related overdoses
had public health care, meaning that our society pays for the
treatment of their overdose. Americans pay over $1 trillion towards
public healthcare, according to Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zuccman who
are economists at the University of California- Berkeley. This number
is greatly affected by spending related to treating those who are
addicted to opioids, so if our nation was able to solve this issue,
as a society we would spend less in taxes. In the future, the number
of opioids prescribed needs to be reduced and alternatives to these
addictive opioids need to be promoted. There is a new alternative to
opioids, called AT-121, which is currently being developed and tested
by
Astraea
Therapeutics, a biotechnology company. AT-121 has been found to be
just as, if not more effective than opioids and less addictive,
making it a much safer choice. By promoting the use of safer
alternatives such as AT-121, this problem can be prevented from
getting any worse and affecting even more lives. In theory, the use
of these safer alternatives could also potentially help reduce the
amount of taxes Americans have to pay every year due to the fact that
less funding would be needed for public healthcare. Promoting
rehabilitation courses and treatment centers can also help these
individuals turn their lives around and remedy their issue. Finally,
by educating the public on the dangers that are posed by opioids, we
as a society can learn the warning signs for opioid addiction early
on and get treatment for those who need help before their addiction
consumes their lives. By taking these steps, our nation can take a
step in the direction of reducing opioid related addiction which will
benefit not only potential addicts, but our society as well and
ensure that there are less stories like Cristopher's.


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Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign - Our American Opioid Crisis
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