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The U.S.’s Huge Opioid Epidemic

Opioid overdoses have risen to the point that now 78 people die as a result of an overdose every single day in the United States. Now Barack Obama has signed the Comprehensive Addiction and recovery Act which attempts to combat the epidemic which has now become astounding. Most people probably do not realize that over two million people in the US currently are suffering from an opioid abuse disorder. Roughly 50,000 people die from drug overdoses yearly, more than half of which are due to opioid addiction and overuse. Opioid abuse has only in recent years and history become such a severe problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the number of overdoses has in the last fifteen years quadrupled.

Combating the problem starts by an analysis of the facts, currently the majority of deaths from opioid abuse are the result of the overuse of prescribed painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycodone and morphine. The sales of opioids has also quadrupled since the 1990’s which increases the likelihood of heroin addiction among users than among those who do not take the painkillers. Heroin is less expensive yet more potent thus many opioid users end up becoming addicted to the drug. The fact that opioids are highly addictive while also being expensive is already something that has dangerous potential among even those who legally use the drugs while Heroin is already a problem which is becoming an even bigger problem with the current rise and level of prescription painkiller abuse. Then there is the issue and problem of treatment, only a small percentage of those who are addicted are actually receiving necessary care even though such treatments exist. The lack of access to adequate care by so many makes the problem and epidemic that much harder to combat.

What can be done to help is very much dependent on the availability of sufficient funding from the government which would help to provide help where help is needed. President Obama has requested an amount of funding of which only a fraction has been approved and provided by Congress, the lack of federal funding is reflected in the lack of resources to provide help and care. Beyond treatment, other things must also be done such as placing limitations on the prescribing practices of physicians while also raising awareness in the community and schools. Access to detox drugs such as naloxone and methadone must also be available to and for those who need it, while the barriers of insurance and health plans must be refined in such a way that help is not denied or too expensive.

Governments on both the State and Federal level have taken action to fight opioid addiction via the many bills and initiatives that have already been established, but more action must be taken to support the ongoing efforts to combat the problem. Prevention, education and treatment are vital components that must be in place in order to achieve success in reducing overdoses and overall abuse of the drugs. While solutions have been identified, they have not been enacted, until all the necessary steps have been taken and everything that can be done is in fact done, the number of overdoses will still be high. 

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