Opioid Epidemic How harmful can opioid use be?


Opioid: drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. Opioid is an important word to have knowledge on if studying the “Opioid Epidemic” because it is necessary to be able to understand how and why people are getting addicted. It is becoming an Epidemic because once these people are addicted to medication they can't proceed with their day due to being physically dependent on the opioids. Pain Medication: variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs for the treatment of pain. Pain medications work chemically to take away the pain you are feeling. Once the pain you are experiencing has gone away you shouldn't take the medication anymore; however, many people abuse pain medication because after taking it for so long they have become addicted. Epidemic: a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. When learning about Opioids and their epidemic it is important to understand what the word Epidemic means because that word is only used when something is a big problem. The opioid epidemic is a serious problem because we are losing many people to it each year and the numbers are only increasing. Abuse: use something to often that has a bad effect or for a bad purpose. Abuse is critical to the opioid epidemic because people are misusing and abusing the opioids that are only intended to help. The misuse of these opioids are what is causing this epidemic. Wholesaler: a person or company that sells goods in large quantities at low prices, typically to retailers. Wholesaler is important to this article because it discusses how these drugs are getting around through the community. With such a significant amount of opioids because abused in just one small area, it is easy to imagine that their is an extreme problem across the country. Chronic Pain: Chronic pain is any pain that lasts for more than three months. The pain can become progressively worse and reoccur intermittently, outlasting the usual healing process.

Why do people have easy access to opioids?

Accessibility to opioids has dramatically increased because of several doctors prescribing medications to the same person and wholesalers shipping them across the country for their own profit. Once a person has been taking certain medications for so long they become addicted, and need to take more to get the same feeling. Wholesalers ship out opioids to different parts of the country making them more accessible to the community (Schmitz). These opiates are commonly known as highly addictive because people often build up a chemical dependency to them, which is why people often find Wholesalers selling them. Wholesalers dont stop selling these drugs due to the millions of dollars they make off people, just by selling the opioids. In the large scheme of things, this is greater problem than just having wholesalers make money; these opioids have a significant toll on a personal body and health. In fact, 15 percent of seniors were prescribed an opioid when they were discharged from a hospital and three months later, 42 percent were still taking the pain medication (Goldkaiser). Access to opiates is significantly higher than any other drug because they are legal in the United States with a prescription. Often times when a patient is seeing more than one doctor for several different reasons the medications they are prescribed counteract each other; however, doctors don’t know this unless the patient tells them they are on other medications which is very dangerous. Although very many people do not have one, this makes opioids more attractive to a drug user because if they go to the doctor complaining of pain and most likely they will be prescribed an opioid to relieve the feeling.

How do opioids affect the body?

Opioids affect the body in several ways, and they have a physical impact on the body and a mental impact on the person. Typically the physical impact on the body is the opioid taking away the pain that the person is experiencing and soothing it. Some common types of opiates are codeine, Vicodin, morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl, these are classified as opiates because their natural active ingredient molecules are derived from the opium poppy plant (Goldkaiser). Over 23 million people suffer from recurring pain; opioids are used to stop the pain for patients but many patients abuse their prescription to further soothe the pain (Meldrum). The biggest advantage to opiates is that they're very effective at controlling pain, and they're relatively cheap. Most people don’t like the feeling of pain which is why the opioids are taken, however after so long they are highly addictive. The mental impact on the person is usually the dependency they build up to the opioid, which tends to be where the addiction begins. Due to the intensity of the high that opioids produce symptoms of addiction can occur in just under three days (Patterson). The epidemic sprouts from people’s addiction to opioids, which is very dangerous because once the pain goes away the person is still taking the pain medication. Often this goes one for very long periods of time. Some medications alter thoughts and actions that a person can have which has a significant impact on the community and is in the users best interest to seek treatment.

How do you treat an opioid addiction?

The most effective ways to treating a chemical dependency are slowing down the rate at which the the opioids are prescribed and educating opioid users on what opioids are meant for. Treatment is a crucial piece top ending this very dangerous epidemic. One way approach to slowing down how many opioids is prescribed to patients was issued in March 2016, when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain (Source 5). If guidelines become more cautioned as well as regulated they will be harder to access for users, and once availability decreases this could very well help slow down the rate at which people abuse their pills. Opioids are currently popular because of how cheap and accessible they are, and if those two components are taken away them use of opioids will drastically decline. Chronic Pain: Chronic pain is any pain that lasts for more than three months. The pain can become progressively worse and reoccur intermittently, outlasting the usual healing process (Meldrum). If opioid user knew what abuse prescription pills was doing to their body less people would be taking them. Often times people do not understand that opioids are meant to take away pain and should be avoided if the pain is bearable. Also educating people on how addictive they can be would be beneficial because they might stop taking their prescription before it runs out. However, not everyone will seek treatment options for their use, which can lead to them making poor decisions under the influence and increasing the cost of living.

The CDC is or also known as Centers For Disease Control and Prevention is a place that can have a very big impact on the amount of prescriptions being prescribed because they can strengthen guidelines.

Why is the cost of living increased because of opioid use?

The cost of living is more expensive due to opioid use because people under the influence make poor decisions that affect the community and when poor decisions are made getting law enforcement involved raises tax payers money. Everyday, 3,900 people initiate nonmedical use of prescription opioids for the first time (Anthony). People under the influence of opioids need to be able to afford their habit, this can lead them to making poor decisions when they are under the influence or even committing a crime. This eventually leads to increased homeowners insurance fees if people's homes are being vandalised or burglarized. Retail stores also see increase of insurance cost to cover damage and theft expenses. Often times law enforcement find people once they need critical medical attention, or emergency treatment due to injury or harm to the person (Johnson). When law enforcement has contact with citizens under the influence there are times the person has to be transported to the hospital and/or use ambulatory services and receive medical attention at a hospital. This raises the cost of medical fees that incurred by all through insurance companies. There are multiple types of insurance: homeowners, vehicle, medical life. Life insurance policy can be voided if under the influence and cost can be higher and they can charge additional fees if you have a past history of chemical dependency.

Needing to be able to afford their opioid addiction.

What affects do opioids have on the community?

Opioids affect the community because each year our community loses so many lives due to opioid deaths and overdoses. When people lose their life to opioids the community has to pay for it. In the last 15 years opioid overdoses have claimed 300,000 lives; 33,000 in 2015 alone (Anthony). This happens when people have been taking the same medication so often extended periods of time; however, in certain cases just a matter of days. When an individual dies from an overdose, people don't know and understand their lifestyle as well as what they have been through. More and more lately you see children losing their parents to opioids, and having to be put in some occasions foster homes that the community needs to fund. The number of people losing their lives is only drastically increasing and because of this solutions are being proposed. If this trend continues, it’s inevitable that the negative effects of opioid abuse with continue to grow and affect the community. One way approach to slowing down how many opioids is prescribed to patients was issued in March 2016, when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain (Meldrum). Communities have high hopes that when changes are made this epidemic will decrease. Although, it is not promised. Taxpayers are paying significantly more than before because now they are paying for lost productivity, health care costs, criminal justice costs, and lost labor. These increases in cost do not just affect one group of people, everyone who makes money gets taxes taken out to support these funds. If this trend continues, the cost that taxpayers will need to pay will only increase because the amount of people using opioids has only gone up and will continue to. Not only is the community affected by these funds but so is everyone around the world because people under the influence can create a danger to society through their actions.

Works Cited

GoldKaiser, Jenny. “Opioid Epidemic Affects Older Adults, Too.” Times Herald-Record

www.recordonline.com/news/20170124/opioid-epidemic-affects-older-adults-too. Accessed 23 Jan. 2017.

“Young Victims of the Opioid Epidemic.” The New York Times, 16 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/opinion/young-victims-of-the-opioid-epidemic.html?_r=0. Accessed 24 Jan. 2017.

Anthony, Clarence. “Take Back Our Cities From Opioids.” U.S. News, 25 Jan. 2017, www.usnews.com/opinion/policy-dose/articles/2017-01-25/how-cities-can-combat-the-opioid-drug-epidemic. Accessed 26 Jan. 2017.

Schmitz, Ali. "County to Fight Back Against Drug Wholesalers." Charleston Gazette - Mail, 20 Jan. 2017, ProQuest Newsstand, https://search.proquest.com/docview/1860235693?accountid=42214. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.

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