The worst American Opioid Epidemic: declared a Public Health Emergency.
America’s current opioid epidemic has developed into a public health emergency. Between 1996 and 2010, both opioids-related prescription and deaths quadrupled in the U.S.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Per the "U.S. News" by 2016, the death rate in the U.S. from opioid overdose was higher than weapons, car accidents and HIV/AIDS deaths together in a single year. Interesting and surprising enough, The U.S. is only 5% of the world's population and consumes 85% of the world's prescription pills. Americans use 99% of total available Norco worldwide.
Several factors have led to the increasing epidemic. America is by far the world’s leader in written narcotic medicines. With such a wide proliferation of opioids available, the potential for misuse and abuse is compelling. In special, sufferers with chronic non-cancer-related pain have been the target market for opioid manufacturers and account for a serious acceleration in opioid consumption in the States.
While opioids may abate pain in serious conditions, the risks often surpass the benefits. The average duration of an opioid prescript is over 10 days but dependency and increased tolerance to opioids can develop in as little as 5 to 7 days.
Again, I am referring to the worst "Opioid Epidemic" in the United States escalating to a "Nation Emergency." I love the intricacy yet complexity of this topic. The biological sciences explain a section of the problem but this aspect is merely a minor fragment of it. With the multi-influences of how we (the clinicians) prescribe drugs, the pateint's socioeconomic status, the social determinants of health, and a sum of other elements seem to play a crucial role to battle this crisis.
When I asked medical students to define our current health crisis (read more here) and opioid-related situation in 5 words, their most impactful reflections were: misunderstanding (by the public and medical professionals), subtly impactful (we have been inattentive to the rise in misuse and suddenly realize the magnitude of the problem), institutional care instead of whole-person care, revealing facts, and multifactorial.
A solution would have to be many factors but the elements that seem important are non-punitive actions of bringing people social and medical support (a handful of law enforcement agencies have established this with moderate success but the scheme requires optimization from a preventive and regulation perspective).
Better medical treatment plans and support for patients suffering with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Addiction, more rational prescribing habits (higher education, training and maybe incentives). I think like social context plays a key role, so getting people jobs, better access to health care, gym memberships or participating in volunteer activities have produced and will continue to produce results in restoring the idle time spent seeking or doing drugs.
Powerful campaigns are citing three target areas to fight the opioid crisis; but the lack of behavioral mediation, each one of those targets focuses on drug distribution and accessibility intending to combat overdose. As an end, most relief efforts rely on the antidote known as naloxone (Narcan) and new pharmacological approaches to abate the effects of opioid overdose.
Most managements have been reactionary instead of exploring underlying roots of abuse and behavioral avenues for care. While exists solid evidence that naloxone is practical in reducing overdose deaths, one repercussion of a rapid proliferation of emergency aid programs is yet the disparity in striking out the most efficacious and scalable interventions to battle the opioid epidemic.
This is not a quick fix solution for a simple problem, but I just left here few suggestions that might be relevant. From what I have known non-punitive rehab is key... but poorly described in the sense that the medical and social/behavioral interventions applied in restoring the sufferer to a functioning member of society are not obvious or well implemented. We are ineffective when deal with these people.
Again, I believe non-disciplinary treatment for those that wish to rescue themselves would be a tremendous advancement and a great point to start. Still, it’s important to consider the issues and solutions on a more comprehensive level to better understand and consider new interventions that could provide a definite solution.
Let us know what your conclusions are? How can we collaborate together to neutralize this health dilemma? You have a suggestion, or maybe a solution, or just a thought? That's excellent, let's go together and develop antidotal approaches to curb this catastrophe! Reach us out and Subscribe Now!
Hendry Perez-Pascual, M.D
Editor and Founder - Antidote Care
Related & Recommended Book: Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (4/5/16)
Want to know the dimension of this health problem? Watch YouTube Video Below: