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Currently, drug abuse, particularly heroin, is increasing rapidly in Queens. The problem is prevalent particularly among the youths and middle-aged adults. Drug abuse culminates in a shift of behavior and biological health issues that affect families, individuals, and communities. Substance abuse has economical consequences and absorbs a substantial amount of the county budget. Furthermore, increased drug abuse has elevated crime levels in Queens making it a significant public health and safety concern.
Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Epidemiology is the study of occurrence and distribution of health related concerns in a particular population that includes studying factors influencing the events. Through epidemiology, public health workers are able to understand the causes, location and factors influencing the occurrence of the health event (Stanhope& Lancaster, 2016 p 258). Epidemiologists collect the information through different methods that include telephone interviews or analysis of available data (Hagan, Munger, Ascherio, & Grodstein, 2016). Through measuring of proportions and rates of drug abuse, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) was able to determine the prevalence of heroin and drug abuse distribution across New York particularly Queens Borough. The institute referenced the admission information in the rehabilitation facilities to determine the most admitted cases.
According to the United States (US) Census Bureau, the estimated population in Queens Borough was over two million in 2016 (Population estimates, 2016). Twenty percent of the population is under eighteen years while thirteen percent is sixty-five years and above (Population estimates, 2016). Based on the age groups classified, most of the residents are within the age bracket vulnerable to heroin and drug abuse.
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Heroin is a leading drug problem across New York based on the available indicators. Heroin admissions in treatment facilities were relatively stable constituting twenty-five percent of admissions. Heroin admissions of injectors were forty-three percent and increasing proportion (National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2014). Furthermore, heroin is eleven percent of the drug reports analyzed at the NFLIS laboratories. Other abused substances include cannabis and cocaine, which combined, accounted for over forty-eight percent of the reported drug admissions (National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2014). Other sources of data included the reported mortality rates of prescribed opioid overdose-related deaths.
Prevention and control of drug abuse
Contrary to other infections, drug abuse does not have a precise causative factor. People abuse drugs due to peer pressure, depression, stress, financial problems and accessibility to drugs. Determining such causative factors paves the way to not only general drug prevention and control measures but also specific policy formulation to curb the epidemic. Given the nature of drug and substance abuse, Queens handles heroin addiction in three levels that are primary, secondary and tertiary.
Queens County has developed a primary prevention strategy targeting impressionable youngsters. Adolescents are most vulnerable to the allure of heroin and substance abuse. Therefore delaying or preventing the first use of heroin, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is important. Additionally, the county uses education to prevent drug addiction among school going age groups. Besides preventing some initiations ultimately, primary drug prevention mechanisms has helped drug abusers reduce their quantities and to some extent quit altogether.
Secondly, primary prevention has been essential for adults who physicians deem to be in susceptible situation. For instance, if the adults or youngsters enter in relationships with substance addicts physicians intervene by clearly outlining the implications of drug abuse. Furthermore, community healthcares provide education to expectant mothers on the effects of drugs and substance abuse to the unborn child.
Secondary and tertiary prevention
The main objective of secondary prevention is to control the spread of drug abuse in the community. Through school programs, Queens County has made it clear to vulnerable youths on the implications of associating with drug addicts that include imprisonment and disease infection. Maintaining vigilance for premature indicators of substance addiction or a history evocative of drug misuse is the main way for the community nurses to detect the early stages of abuse.
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Like any other chronic disease, a person recovering from addiction remains at a risk of relapsing or developing problems with another substance. Since tertiary prevention, aims to reduce occurrence related complications, Queens County encourages group therapies to handle the relapse problem (Stanhope& Lancaster, 2016 p297). The community nurses are encouraging patients recovering from the addiction to engaging in group therapy sessions. However, the most efficient strategy is regular monitoring and counseling of recovering addicts in addition to family and community support. Furthermore, the community nurses monitor patients with addictive disorders and regularly discuss their progress in recovery during appointments.
- Hagan, K. A., Munger, K. L., Ascherio, A., & Grodstein, F. (2016). Epidemiology of Major Neurodegenerative Diseases in Women: Contribution of the Nurses’ Health Study. American journal of public health, 106(9), 1650-1655.
- Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (9th ed). Maryland Heights, MO: Elsevier Mosby.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014, February 26). New York City, New York. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/workgroups-interest-groups-consortia/community-epidemiology-work-group-cewg/meeting-reports/highlights-summaries-january-2014/new
- Population estimates, July 1, 2016, (V2016). (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2017, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/36081