The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that in 2015, 55,404 citizens in the United States died of drug overdoses. That amount is greater than the combined amount of deaths that resulted from automobile accidents, gunshots and suicides that year. 80% of these people died had misused opioids like heroin, prescription painkillers and synthetic fentanyl. Over 2.5 million people in the United States take legal opioid like hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxycodone. Back in 2012, doctors in the United States wrote approximately 259 million opioid prescriptions. Apparently, 80% of all opioids in the world are being consumed in the United States.
As of lately, many babies that have been born in recent years have been addicted to opioids from birth. Fentanyl and heroin are in huge demand due to prescription opioid abuse. Even victims of human trafficking tend to be addicted to opioids, which is used to pressurize them. Opioid addiction has even affected Americans living in the rural and southern states, and even veterans.
This is the first time that there has been such a drop in life expectancy in the United States and opioid addiction is the cause. Between 2000 and 2015, drug overdoses resulted in 500,000 deaths. The statistics make it seem like America is in a state of war. Compared to the the Second World War, and the Korean and Vietnam wars combined had resulted in approximately the same number of deaths.
Back in January 2016, an Obama anti-opioid initiative was launched, but it proved to be ineffective in controlling and restraining this crisis. A drug epidemic is not new for Americans, and the present one can be stopped in its tracks if the right steps are taken in 2017.
Clear executive leadership is far more necessary than ever before in order for interagency and intergovernmental action to be successfully deployed. The epidemic also needs to be addressed through prompt and top-priority legislative action. The accessibility of legal, prescription opioids that lead to addiction needs to be limited. To do this, more serious civil and criminal penalties need to be implemented on diversion, illegal distribution, illicit prescription, mislabeling, spurious marketing of opioids.
It has also become crucial that local, federal and state enforcement agencies coordinate with each other in enforcing the law and share critical information among themselves promptly. Drug traffickers and “pill mills” are currently the foundation of the epidemic that needs to be destroyed to make this crisis topple down over itself. Government and law enforcement agencies that need to join forces now with clear executive leadership include the Customs and Border Protection, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. attorneys, and other state partners. Only then can synchronized enforcement can be implemented against those responsible for the both the illegal and legal narcotics that have been wreaking havoc in American communities.
Last but not least, doctors and health care providers need to be very cautious about their prescription habits when it comes to opioid medications. It turns out that patients have not been receiving sufficient medical advice on how to appropriate use prescription opioid medications. More treatment and recovery programs also need to be made available to addicts, and the public need to be thoroughly educated about addiction and its risks. Only by taking these steps could America succeed in winning its latest war on drugs.