The opioid epidemic has been escalating throughout the country for quite some time
This prescription drug has grown to have illegal counterparts, commonly being abused because they are extremely addictive. Being a painkiller, opioid medications have effects on the parts of the brain that control pain and emotions, along with increasing the levels of the “feel-good” hormone: dopamine, creating an intense feeling of euphoria—which is a “feeling or state of intense excitement or happiness”. With a search for this continuous happy feeling, the drug becomes addictive because as more of it is taken, more of it is needed in order to stimulate the brain to that high state.
Currently, the United States has over two million people who are either dependent on this drug or abuse it. In 2017, it had been recorded that over 72,000 deaths happened as a result of overdoses—49,068 of those deaths involved opioids. In 2016 and 2017, it has been stated that over 130 people died daily due to opioid-related drug overdoses, as stated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, from 1992 to 2012, the number of prescriptions doctors filled for opioid prescriptions went from 112 million to 282 million, doubling its demand over the course of only 10 years.
However, the country has been attempting to address the problem
In 2013, it was said that an estimated $78.5 billion was spent on medical care and substance abuse treatment for opioid abusers and overdoses. As a response—in 2016—the 21st Century Cures Act was passed, stating that $1 billion over the next 2 years would be used in order to assist in the opioid crisis throughout the country. This act would provide funding for expanded treatment for those seeking to get sober and prevention programs to reduce the number of overdoses. The following year—2017—the United States Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in regards to opioid addiction and stated that that would be executing a 5-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis:
- Improving access to treatment and recovery services;
- Promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs;
- Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance;
- Providing support for cutting edge research on pain and addiction; and
- Advancing better practices for pain management. *
It will be a long battle, but the country is fighting to bring people back to sobriety
It is extremely difficult to bring a person back to sobriety—especially when the drug has been given to them as a means of making their pain tolerable. However, though it may be difficult, it most certainly is not impossible. With each step that the government is taking, people are getting sober and less people are dying from an overdose due to this drug. With patience, proper care and an increased understanding on what people who abuse opioids need to fully recover, this will cease to be an epidemic, with lives being changed and saved.