Issue of Opioid Epidemic

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More than thirty five percent of Americans are dying from opioids. That is about ten overdose related illnesses each year. This surprising data contradicts the purpose of opioids. These popular prescribed pain killers are supposed to help patients, but instead they do more harm than good. The intended purpose of prescription opioids is to help cure moderate to severe pain caused by injuries, surgery, and even pain caused by cancer. However, every year nearly forty percent of Americans are being killed due to misuse of the drug. The first wave of the opioid crisis began in 1991 when deaths began to rise. Following in 1995 when a powerful opioid called OxyContin was received approval by Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the drug. However, many patients abused the drug by crushing and injecting it. As a result, Purdue Pharma was sued in 2007 for providing false information on the opioid.

The amount of prescription opioids tripled between 1991 and 2011. In 1999 when eighty-six percent of patients were using the drugs for non-cancer pain. The second wave began in 2010 from heroin as a result of opioids. Between 1999 and 2016, more than two hundred thousand Americans have lost their lives due to opioid addiction. This is also a major concern for newborn babies. In 2017 a public health emergency was declared and in response, medical personnel have prescribed lower doses for fewer days to help diminish this situation.

Prompting the CDC to set new guide lines for prescribing opioids. They include nonpharmacologic and nonopioid therapy for chronic pain, establishing treatment goals prior, discussing realistic benefits, prescribing immediate release opioids, evaluating harms and benefits with patients within the first few weeks of treatment, doing a urine drug test, avoid prescribing opioid pain killers when possible, and offer or arrange evidence base treatment for patients with opioid use disorder. Since drug abuse is vulnerable, how could addicts afford the treatment they need?

To begin, based on a drug enforcement administration report, overdose death increased in 2015 by twenty three percent. In addition, The CDC reported that the number of opioids were prescribed three times more than 1999. Deaths from opioids increased form eleven-point four percent between 2014 and 2015. In 2016 at least sixty-four thousand overdose related deaths occurred. On average one hundred thirty patients die from opioids each year. Forty-seven thousand six hundred people die from overdosing opioids.

Treatment options include methadone. A prescription drug used to treat drug addiction without withdraw illness. Other treatment options include synboxin, a film that is applied under the tongue. An additional treatment is vivitrol which is an injection. Buprenorphine is also a drug however it is less effective than methadone. It is favorable drug that can be taken by mouth, injection, skin patch, film placed on the cheek inside the mouth, or an implant that goes underneath the skin. In addition, naltrexone helps block opiate receptors. However, like buprenorphine, it is less effective than methadone since it does not ease withdraw symptoms. Taking these medications along with receiving counseling services can eliminate addiction and live happily and healthy.

Moreover, every year twenty million dollars are spent on emergency and inpatient care for opioid overdoses. Medication along with methadone treatment and other medical services cost six thousand two hundred fifty-two dollars per year. Buprenorphine costs about five thousand nine hundred eighty-five dollars per year. Naltrexone costs about fourteen thousand one hundred twelve dollars per year. An average healthcare cost for clients who are undergoing treatment is two thousand forty-one dollars.

Furthermore, many patients being treated for overdose related issues experience withdrawal symptoms. The early symptoms include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating, repetitive speech and yawning. Late symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms are non-life threatening. They usually start within twelve, hours after the use of heroin and thirty hours after the use of methadone. Additional symptoms include, irritability, muscle cramps, seizures, sweating and chills.

To include symptoms of overdose are associated after the use of an opioid. They include loss of consciousness, unresponsive to outside stimulus, awake but unable to talk, slow and shadow or erratic breathing, or stopped, turning bluish purple, choking sounds, vomiting, limp body pale or clammy face, blue or purplish black lips or fingernails, and slow or erratic heartbeat or no pulse, clothes not fitting the same, unusual odors, body odors due to lack of hygiene, chest pain, blocked airways, disorientation or confusion, and unresponsiveness.

To add the opioid epidemic was caused by pharmaceutical companies prescribing opioid pain killers at a high rate reassuring that patients would not become addicted. Heroin along with fentanyl are also to blame for the epidemic. In addition, patients misusing the drug leads to the widespread. Additionally, a patient not taking a drug for a certain amount of time and then picks up where they left off can lead to an overdose, due to the body not having the same tolerance levels. Patients taking more than prescribed can lead to an addiction and a devastating overdose.

For instance, the health effects of the drug overdose have short-term and long-term health effects. When crushed pills and heroin are injected into the veins, they collapse. This can lead to heart lining resulting from contamination of the drugs being injected. In addition, it can cause brain sedation and slowing of the digestion system. Drug injection can also result in major sensitivity to pain since this affects the nervous system. In addition, this can cause the immune system to weaken and eventually fail. Short term includes changes in appetite, wakefulness, increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Long term includes dependency of the drug, heart or lung disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, caused by the addict sharing injections with others and unsafe sexual activities. Hepatitis, drug addiction and dental problems. They include tooth decay, dry mouth, weekend teeth and gum tissue, bruxism, reduced blood flow to the oral tissue, mouth sores and ulcers, and gum disease. In addition, life threatening symptoms include difficulty swallowing and breathing, respiratory arrest, brain damage, unconsciousness, and death.

Furthermore, the opioid crisis affects newborn babies. This is caused by women taking opioids while pregnant. Many addicted mothers find their child addicted after 15 minutes of withdraw symptoms after birth. From 2004 to 2014, the number of babies that are addicted has increased by eighty percent. The total costs for treatment for addicted babies are one hundred sixty-two million dollars for Medicaid Patients. Out of the nine-point one million babies born in hospitals, thirty-five thousand six hundred twenty-nine are addicted to opioids.

Studies show that thirty to forty percent of three-year old children have difficulty remaining focused articulating needs and wants, controlling behavior, and experiencing developmental delays. They include cognitive, motor, social, emotional, behavioral, and speech delays. Long term effects of addiction can lead to physical deformities. This includes, a small head circumference, and facial deformities, such as flatten cheek bones. Early symptoms of addiction include, excessive or high-pitched crying, irritability, trouble sleeping, excessive sucking, poor feeding, weight gain or loss, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, blotchy skin, fever, dehydration, jitteriness, tremors, convulsions, sweating, mottling, loss of appetite, tight muscle tone, and hyperactive reflexes. These symptoms tend to last for five days. Additional symptoms include poor intrauterine growth, premature birth, seizures and other birth defects.

Moreover, addiction can also ruin lives and devastate families. It can cause a student’s grades to slip. In addition, the student can also cause the student to skip school, get suspended or even expelled. This can also cause an addict to commit a crime such as theft, breaking and entering, assault, and reckless driving. Additionally, it can cause friends and family to lose trust. Which it can also negatively impact hobbies and leisure activities. In addition, the addict can lose their job. Addiction can cause an addict to become anti-social leading to a negative effect on their emotions and mental health such as blaming on another person for the addict’s actions, changing a subject to avoid to avoid discussing the subject, mixing with different groups of people or changing friends, not bathing, showering, changing clothes or brushing teeth, eating more or less, being overly energetic, talking to fast, or saying things that do not make sense, being nervous or cranky, quick mood changes, drug cravings, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and hallucinations. This could also lead families to a huge financial crisis, due to the amount of money spent on the drugs themselves, and the treatment the addict needs.

To conclude, addicts are should be able to afford the treatment they need. When somebody takes only a few pills they can easily become addicted. This leads to a social and financial impact on families. For instance, the addict can lose friends and their families can lose trust in them. Families can also financially fall behind. For example, opioids cost an average between three thousand five hundred and seventy thousand dollars. In addition, it can lead to serious illnesses including death. To add the serious health affects a victim can suffer are breathing problems, cancer, heart attack, and dental problems, leading to tooth loss and an unhealthy mouth. The younger generation are also affected by this deadly epidemic. Women who are pregnant taking only a few pills can easily get their child addicted. In addition, they can have long term health effects such as an abnormal sized brain along with facial deformities. Also, the child can also die if left untreated or if the conditions are severe. Additionally, parents who are addicts can have their child removed and placed in foster care by DHS.

In conclusion addicts should be able to get the affordable treatments they need to battle this deadly opioid crisis. The overdose death dramatically increasing to the roof leading to costly treatments. In addition, this devastation can lead to a negative impact on the addict’s social life. Which can include friends and family losing trust in the person who is suffering from overdose. This devastating epidemic harms the newborns and children leading to an unpleasant future. The cause of the epidemic is often accidental and certain patients cannot afford the treatments they need as well as other daily essentials such as food, clothing, footwear, health, and hygiene materials.


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Cite this paper

Issue of Opioid Epidemic. (2021, Nov 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/issue-of-opioid-epidemic/

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