Name: Jonathan Thompson
The Opiod Crisis: A Conversation America Needs to Have
Opioid Crisis: A Conversation America Needs to Have
2017 over 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United
States. More than 60% of those deaths were due to some form of
opioid, legal or illegal they are still derived from the same plant.
Opiates have a place in society, but they have been invited places
they very much do not belong. We have placed the blame on the
individual for getting addicted, but never ask how they got addicted
in the first place, someone addicted to heroin very well could have
been prescribed Valium when they did not need it and got cut off. To
truly combat the opioid crisis we are facing, we have to understand
exactly why opiates are being used to the degree they are, and figure
out what we as a people can do about it.
2012, the United States had a population of 314 million people. Also
in 2012, doctors in the United States prescribed 259 million opioid
prescriptions, more than enough that every adult living in America
could have gotten one (Rothstein 2017). It is between a doctor and a
patient to decide when it is best to remove the patient from the
opiate prescription, but at what point does that conversation need to
talk place? Rieder (2017) attempted to have this talk with his
prescribing physician and was given the run around. He was told by
numerous physicians to talk to other physicians, some even
recommended he stay on the opiates to avoid withdraw. That is
entirely the wrong attitude we should have.
things are being done to combat the overuse of opiates in America.
There have been advances in the way we track opiates and other
potentially abusable drugs. That being said, physicians need to
utilize these systems for it to truly be effective. In 2016, part of
the fiscal budget was 133 million dollars allocated to opiate
treatment programs (OTP) (Painter 2018). The need has been recognized
and lawmakers are taking steps in direction to tighten control over
prescriptions. That control however, does come with a price, but 133
million dollars is relatively small as compared to much larger parts
of our yearly budget and that 133 million will most likely have a
much clearer impact than other budgetary items, but only time will
cornerstone of the medical profession is the phrase “do no harm”.
It is in the best interest for everyone, particularly our caregivers,
to be trained on addiction symptoms, and how to deal with withdraw.
One study was done regarding the attitude of nurses towards those
with opioid addictions, and the results showed diminished desire to
work with said patients (Painter 2018). Training all healthcare
professionals on how to properly handle those with opiate addiction
and those on the edge is critical to the overall wellbeing of our
nation. Addiction is a mental illness, those suffering need help, and
for them to get help healthcare providers need an education on how to
as a nation need to do something about the sheer number of people
addicted to opiates. Losing as many people as we do to drugs in
general is unacceptable. Healthcare professionals need to be held
accountable for their over-prescription. Patients need to be held
accountable for their own healthcare. The federal government has
stepped in some, but it will take more time to see any real impact
from the regulations put in place with the OTPs. We as a people need
to be more understanding of those dealing with addiction and not
stigmatize the mental illness it is. To truly combat the opioid
crisis, we have to have a national conversation about it, not pretend
it isn’t happening.
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