Opioid National Emergency
The opioid crisis in the U.S. can be likened to natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricanes, but unlike these very deadly natural disasters, the opioid crisis is caused by humans and has refused to go. Politicians are targeting the drug makers who they claim are responsible for igniting this unending ‘wildfire’ epidemic by extracting billions of dollars from the large pharmaceutical companies. However, it is obvious that this approach alone cannot guarantee victory.
President Trump in 2017 publicly declared the opioid epidemic in the US a public health emergency. Speaking in the East wing of the White House, he said the opioid epidemic which kills over 100 people daily— is the “worst drug crisis in American history.”
Key Facts about the Opioid Epidemic
- Large pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s assured the medical community that there would not be an opioid addiction problem. This led many medical professionals to increase the rate of prescription.
- This increased rate of prescription ultimately resulted in the abuse of opioids on a large scale even before it was formally identified as an epidemic.
- Opioid drug overdoses kill more than 64,000 people per year.
- An estimated 40% of all opioid overdose deaths were due to prescription opioids.
- About 63.4 percent of adults in 2015 revealed that they misused opioid pain relievers at least once that year to treat chronic pain.
- Another very common reason given by many adults (11.7 percent) for abusing opioid pain medications was that it gave them a euphoric
- Another 10.9 percent revealed that they took opioids to help them relax and relieve
- Some of the less common reasons for taking opioids include to sleep better (4.5 percent), to help with mood and emotions (3.2 percent), to stay hooked (2.5 percent), to experiment (2.0 percent), to combat the effects of other drugs (0.9 percent).
States Most Affected by the Opioid Crisis
The Center for Disease Control’s National Syndrome Surveillance and Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance programs released a report from July 2016 to September 2017 on the level of the opioid epidemic in some states based on emergency visits. The report covered over 91 million emergency office visits in 45 states and an aggregate 142,557 suspected opioid overdoses.
The summary of the results showed that the Midwest region was the worst hit by the opioid epidemic with over 69.7% increase, followed closely by the West with over 40.3%, the Northeast, had about 21.3%; Southwest, at 20.2% and the Southeast at 14%.
In the over 45 million emergency office visits identified by the surveillance program, there were over 119,198 opioid overdose cases in 16 States.
Wisconsin had the highest increment, 108.6%, and Delaware had the second highest, 105%. Pennsylvania saw a 80.6% rise, Illinois saw a 65.5% rise, Indiana saw a 35.1% rise, Maine saw a 34% rise, North Carolina saw a 31.1% rise, Ohio saw a 27.7% rise, and Missouri saw a 21.4% rise. In the West, Nevada saw a 17.9% rise, and New Mexico saw a 8.3% rise.
A noteworthy decline was observed in Kentucky: 15%. New Hampshire saw a 7.1% fall, and a not so significant 5.3% fall was observed in West Virginia.
The specialist revealed that the significant increase in the Midwest is also in line with the high number of overdose cases reported in that region. However, the increase in the opioid epidemic in the Southwest and West and the declines in the Southeast were unexpected.
Combating the Opioid Epidemic
After declaring the opioid epidemic a national health emergency, President Trump proposed his three-part plan to tackle it, revealing that his administration will focus on decreasing the demand for opioid medications through education, block the flow of Illegal drugs and finally save lives by increasing the successful addiction treatment options available.
Drawing from President Donald Trump’s plan to deal with the opioid crisis, House lawmakers are working on two dozen bills which they claim will holistically address the opioid epidemic and end it completely. The proposed bills will tackle problems on better treatment programs and also alternatives to using opioids as pain medication.
The House Lawmakers in June 2018 passed arguably the most ambitious legislation to address the opioid crisis in America. The bills will ensure federal agencies prioritize training, addiction support and recovery centers and research.