Addressing Opioid Crisis
The opioid issue or epidemic has been one of the most discussed topics at the presidential level for years. It is also consistent with my experiences as a nurse in an acute care hospital, where I frequently encounter people abusing prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, March 19), 128 people die daily from opioid overdoses, and between 1999 and 2018, about 450 thousand deaths were registered. In response to the rising number of deaths and devastation caused by the opioid crisis throughout the United States, the last three presidents have taken a variety of national measures.
Former President George Bush established the National Drug Control Strategy (Justice.gov, 2006), which focuses on three key components: preventing drug use before it begins, treating drug users, and disrupting the market for illicit substances. Despite the strategy’s intriguing goals, community cases continued to fluctuate.
Next in line is the former President Barack Obama, who signed into the 21st Century Cures Act, which “funds a $1 billion proposal to combat the opioid epidemic and enacts mental health reforms focused on serious mental illness, suicide prevention, and mental health parity protections” (Obama White House, 2015). This act included funding the fight against opioid epidemic to provide the resources and treatments people need (Obama White House, 2016). The money may be used to improve prescription drug monitoring programs,to make treatment programs more accessible, to train health care professionals in best practices of addiction treatment, and to research the most effective approaches to prevent dependency (Wikipedia, n.d.).
This was then followed by President Donald Trump administration, who issued a nationwide call to action by declaring opioid crisis as a public health emergency in October 2017. According to the White House (n.d.), the proposed measures include:
Part 1 reducing demand and over-prescription, including educating Americans about the dangers of opioid misuse. Part 2 is cutting down on the supply of illicit drugs by cracking down on the international and domestic drug supply chains that devastate American communities. Part 3 is helping those struggling with addiction through evidence-based treatment and recovery support services. In 2018, President Trump worked with Congress to pass the SUPPORT Act, thesingle largest legislative package addressing a single drug crisis in history.
Undeniably, these strategies are still in progress, and as a nation we continue to fight for this battle. Unfortunately, drug overdose continues to impact our communities, and it is even leaving us with devastating deaths. If I have to address it differently, I will give more attention to the most vulnerable population who are the younger adults and reinforce education and community action. As a nurse, I can also contribute by helping officials collect new ideas by sharing and interpreting data in the health care system that affect patients and professionals. I will also be an advocate for those who are hesitant to disclose their main concerns and make sure that they will have support systems available. Each individual can do something by adhering to the nation’s policy and implementing it.
21st century cures act. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/21st_Century_Cures_Act
3 letters that explain why president obama is signing the cures act. (2016, December 13). whitehouse.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/12/3-letters-explain-why-president-obama-signing-cures-act
Ending america’s opioid crisis. (n.d.). The White House. Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/opioids/
Improving health for all americans. (2015, December 1). whitehouse.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-record/health-care
National drug control strategy: February 2006 [PDF]. (2006). Justice.gov. https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/pdf/ndcs06.pdf
Understanding the epidemic. (2020, March 19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 1, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
Addressing Opioid Crisis.docx (38.241 KB)
I enjoyed reading your discussion regarding the opioid crisis. I found this discussion to be informative and well written. Unfortunately, as a psychiatric nurse, I often encounter individuals who are struggling with substance abuse, as well as mental health illness. Nurses not only provide these clients with physical and psychological care but provide education regarding the risks of substance addiction, including the physical and psychological consequences, the potential harm to relationships and family life, and the impact on fulfilling basic needs such as holding down a job. Nurses educate patients regarding treatment options, including those they can use on either an inpatient or outpatient basis and those they can use to cope with substance cravings.
Research has shown that several underlying factors are responsible for drug addiction. A combination of physical dependence, sexual addiction, violence in the family, and parental history of alcohol/drug use is associated with youth substance addiction (Ahad, 2017). Substance addiction is also followed by some other issues, such as mental illness, domestic violence, economic deprivation, housing needs, and residence in dangerous neighborhood environments (Ahad, 2017).
President Trump announced on August 10, 2017, his intention to declare a national emergency following the recommendation of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Opioid misuse is one of the nation’s most severe preventable public health challenges. To date, more than 600,000 deaths have occurred, with 180,000 more expected by 2020 (Gostin et al., 2017). Of the 20.5 million US citizens 12 years of age or older with opioid use disorders in 2015, 2 million have been addicted to prescription pain relievers (Gostin et al., 2017). A national emergency declaration authorizes public health forces, mobilizes resources, and encourages creative measures to combat a rapidly growing population.
Hydrocodone, oxycodone and overall opioid prescribing have been in a multiyear decline beginning in 2012 through early 2017 (Rose, 2018). Total opioid analgesic prescriptions decreased 4.5% from 2011 to 2014, prompting rises in tramadol (+25.5%) and buprenorphine (+49.4%) prescriptions (Rose, 2018). One study I found interesting reported that chronic pain as a medical cause of suicide is second only to bipolar disorder (Rose, 2018). The distress, exhaustion, and hopeless chronic unrelieved pain can invite thoughts of suicidal ideations. Death is no longer feared but becomes now a welcoming prospect of permanent relief from pain and anguish (Rose, 2018). A concern would be that the decrease in prescription opioids would lead to more frequent street usage, causing an increase in substance abuse, overdoses, and suicide attempts and completions related to unrelieved pain. This concern is why I feel it is so important that the United States continues to address the Opioid Crisis, as well as other substance abuse addictions.
I agree with your intervention to incorporate educational encouragement and community action programs. An issue must be brought to social consciousness. Addiction outreach programs should offer mentor programs, workshops, fun activities, awareness-raising rallies, drug take-back events and mediators to reintroduce users and loved ones. A peer education program (PEPs) study was conducted in Turkey. PEPs put into effect the use of providing peers with positive role models for each other. The study was carried out to determine the effect of a PEP on the basic knowledge of adolescents about addiction and on the level of self-efficacy that is needed to avoid substance abuse. The program lasted 3 months, the adolescents were from 14-16 years old. After completing the program it was determined to have shown effectiveness and applicability of the PEP in preventing substance abuse among high-school adolescents (Demirezen, 2020). I feel your discussion post was well thought out and presented. The Opioid Crisis is a much-needed topic to bring awareness to. I enjoyed reading your work!
Ahad, A., Chowdhury, M., Kundu, I., Tanny, N., & Rahman, M. W. (2017). Causes of Drug
Addiction\among Youth in Sylhet City of Bangladesh. IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS), 22(5), 27-31.
Demirezen, D., Karaca, A., Konuk Sener, D., & Ankarali, H. (2020). Agents of Change: The Role of the
Peer Education Program in Preventing Adolescent Substance Abuse. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 1-12.
Gostin, L. O., Hodge, J. G., & Noe, S. A. (2017). Reframing the opioid epidemic as a national
emergency. Jama, 318(16), 1539-1540. https://10.1001/jama.2017.13358
Rose, M. E. (2018). Are prescription opioids driving the opioid crisis? Assumptions vs
facts. Pain Medicine, 19(4), 793-807. http