Opioid Epidemic within Michigan

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Opioids are defined as drugs that act on human body’s nervous system in order to relieve pain. The first use of the drugs were seen during the American Civil War, when soldiers used the substance as a painkiller (Moghe). From then on, the substance has been altered, derived and experimented with, in order to create different forms of opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, codeine and more. Due to the pain-relieving benefit of the drugs, opioids have been over-prescribed by doctors after medical surgeries, despite their effect to leave some users craving more of the substance.

Furthermore, the lack of treatment against the use of opioids has caused the epidemic within Michigan. Opioid abuse has taken over the country, however, Michigan has an even more of addiction compared to other states. According to Julie Mack, “opioid/heroin deaths now exceed gun and traffic fatalities,” which truly shows how big of a problem these drugs are. By digging deeper into this issue, opioid abuse and its related deaths are mainly caused by the over-prescriptions of opioids and the lack of treatment. As a Michigan resident, it is vital for individuals to understand why this issue is important to them due to economic, medical and community-based reasons.

In an economic report from Dustin Walsh, Michigan opioid abuse from the workforce has caused companies $16.3 billion, which are paid by employers of businesses. These unneeded expenses have caused companies to become less , leading to economic and financial loss (Walsh). Surprisingly, managers of companies have even stated that opioid addiction has affected some of their workforce, leading to lower attendance within the workplace (Walsh). With this loss of productivity, it becomes a financial burden for businesses, due to workers not supplying as much labor as they should.

Not only does lower productivity affect local businesses, but, collectively, the state and the economy. Furthermore, opioid addiction takes a toll on Michigan tax payers as well. As the demand for opioids increases within Michigan, the supply for street dealers will rise as well. When arrested by police, underground opioid suppliers are typically charged and sentenced to time in prison. Within prison, these criminals are funded by tax dollars coming straight out of Michiganders pockets. As a resident, this concerns me due to the wasted taxes spent on opioid dealers who fuel the ongoing epidemic.

In fact, tax dollars that are misspent in prison can be redirected to fund other important Michigan issues such as education, infrastructure and more.Ironically, another reason why Michigan residents should be concerned about opioid addiction is the pain-relieving, but addictive, characteristic that the substance gives for medical purposes. If an individual were to go through surgery or a major medical procedure, a doctor would provide opioids to help aid pain. Although most individuals can control their cravings for more opioids, some patients cannot.

This is a problem, especially in a state where the amount of prescriptions are greater than the number of residents (Deiters). Due to opioids being highly addictive, patients must be cautious and aware of how much drugs are prescribed by their doctor and how much to take. According to Amy Lieu, 21 pharmaceuticals are being sued by Michigan, charging the businesses with an attempt to “fuel the national opioid epidemic.” Companies like these can increase doses of opioids in order to get patients to continue consuming the addicting drugs, creating profit for greedy opioid companies (Lieu).

Finally, Michigan residents should worry about this issue because it can affect anyone, including friends and family. In 2016, approximately 2,300 Michiganders passed away from opioid addiction (Haxel). This number is rising and you never know which individual can get hooked onto opioids next. The epidemic within Michigan not only affects the users of the drugs, but it also affects the addict’s family and loved ones. These three reasons explain how opioid addiction affects aspects of an average Michigander, which is why this issue matters to all residents of Michigan.

One of the causes of the opioid epidemic within Michigan is its excessive amount of prescriptions by doctors. When physicians prescribe opioids, they receive money from opioid manufacturers, who pay doctors to make profit for them (Boddiger). This deadly cycle between the doctor and pharmaceutical company is a perfect recipe for opioid addiction within patients and is one of the reasons why there are so many illegal opioids on the streets. Furthermore, a Bloomfield Hills study found that “patient satisfaction scores” were related to how much opioids doctors prescribed (“Physician: Patient Satisfaction Scores Tied to Opioid Abuse”).

This relationship makes it easy to see why opioids are prescribed in excessive amounts. With a patient being pleased with receiving drugs, they become fond of the doctor, thus giving them a high score in their patient surveys (“Physician: Patient Satisfaction Scores Tied to Opioid Abuse”). With these high scores, employers begin take notice of the doctor’s exceptional work and provide compensation to physicians who are performing well (“Physician: Patient Satisfaction Scores Tied to Opioid Abuse”). This cycle between employers, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies incentivizes unnecessary prescription of opioids, which in turn, leads to more opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths in Michigan.

One example of overprescribing opioids is James Leete (Troutman). Under his supervision, three of Leete’s patients died due to opioid overdose (Troutman). Leete was prescribing opioids without any major restrictions, which led to some of his patients becoming addicted and passing away due to this addiction (Troutman). Doctors like these have added to the opioid epidemic, by liberally prescribing medicine and not taking the proper precautions and measures to ensure the proper treatment for patients. James Leete is just one example of how excessive opioid prescriptions have been one of the main causes of opioid abuse within Michigan.

In a another example from the patient’s perspective, US Surgeon General Adams stated that he was over-prescribed pills of Percocet, an opioid for pain relief, in a visit to the dentist (Slagter). Instances like these have clearly exemplified the problem of lenient doctors and the overprescription of opioids within Michigan, causing more addiction.Another main cause of the opioid epidemic and the deaths caused by it, is the lack of treatment within the state. Buprenorphine, also known as methadone, is itself an opioid administered to individuals who are at risk of overdosing on drugs (Roelofs). This medication is vital to the fight against addiction as it saves lives of those who are under the control of opioids (Roelofs).

However, according to Beth Leipholtz, there is a scarce amount of doctors that are ready and willing to prescribe this opioid within Michigan, due to some barriers that prevent physicians from being authorized to recommend it. Firstly, in order to authorize buprenorphine, doctors must go through an 8 hour intensive training session to learn the risks and understand the technical procedures (Roelofs). The second barrier is that many doctors are “skeptical” and fearful of prescribing an opioid itself (Roelofs). Thirdly, the patients who use buprenorphine must be closely observed in the beginning weeks, making physician’s work harder (Roelofs). Due to these three reasons, the lack of eligible doctors puts opioid addicts at more of a risk of death due to overdose. Furthermore, the funding for the opioid epidemic has been below enough.

Although not specifically Michigan, “the federal government will spend a record $4.6 billion this year to to fight the nation’s deepening opioid crisis, which killed 42,000 Americans in 2016,” according to Geoff Mulvihill. Although this is a big step forward, experts know that this current funding will not be adequate to help the opioid epidemic (Mulvihill). With the combination of a lack of certified physicians able to prescribe buprenorphine and an insufficient amount of funding for the opioid epidemic, it only adds to the already raging opioid epidemic within Michigan.

Opioid abuse has been a growing problem that affects all residents of Michigan. The number of opioid related deaths continue to increase due to the lack of treatment and overprescription of opioids. Although, there has been a recent push to acknowledge the opioid problem within Michigan, there are steps that all citizens can take to fight the crisis. By reading online articles and simply paying attention to local and national news, you can expand your knowledge on this issue. Educating yourself and others on opioids can help you see and help individuals who are at risk of falling into addiction.

Furthermore, informing yourself on the drugs will also allow you to become aware of suspicious prescriptions from doctors in the future. Although the opioid crisis is one of Michigan’s biggest issue, the growing awareness of the problem sparks hope in the future for the epidemic to become a thing in the past.

Cite this paper

Opioid Epidemic within Michigan. (2021, Nov 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/opioid-epidemic-within-michigan/

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