Stevens, (2017) says that the opioid pain relievers (OPR) prescribed by medical practitioners have been on the increase in the United states for the period between 1999 and 2008. The rate of increment has been noted to be 4-fold which signals a health crisis in the country (Song, 2017). The increase in the usage of OPR within the country was alongside a recorded increase in the sale of the drug as well as a notable increase in the number of medical experts who agreed to opioid use disorder within the country with the patterns changing daily (Vashishtha, Mittal, & Werb, 2017). The unintentional use of the drug as overdose has since increased in the country accounting for more deaths than motor vehicle crashes or deaths resulting from firearms. The prescription opioids over the same period accounted for greatest number of drug-related deaths in the US with approximately 18, 893 out of 47, 055 people recorded dead as a result of the overdose of Opioids in 2014 (Vashishtha, Mittal, & Werb, 2017). Song, (2017) observes that 69% of the users of opioids for non-medicinal purposes claimed that they got the medicine from either a friend or a family member majority of whom had received the drug originally from a medical physician.
As a result of the health menace the country has found itself in, the US government has had to take actions to curb the usage of opioids and in turn check the increasing drug related deaths in the country. The legislation ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016 to provide guidelines through which the opioids would be prescribed for chronic cases since besides being abused Stone, (2018) notes that the drug has its medicinal purposes. The guidelines so developed however have been criticized for being narrow in the scope they cover as compared to the nature of the subject matter. This led to the involvement of other federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) working alongside the judicial department. The DEA working with the justice department has since been given the mandate to prosecute the drug mill and the physicians involved in illegal prescription of opioids (Stone, 2018). Through its mandate, the DEA can also implement the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) as a step to check the abuse of legalized drugs. The FDA on the other hand can order a company cease the manufacturing of opioids as well as approve new and safer formulations for immediate and long acting opioid medications.
As if the above was not enough, in August 2017, the judicial system announced the creation of the opioid fraud and abuse detection unit (OFADU) as a sign of increased commitment by the government to the course of fighting drug abuse (Griffis, et. al, 2017). However, as per the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), more and more people continue to die as a result of opioid usage a situation which maintains the problem at the level of a national crisis. Earlier this year, the President Trump administration has dedicated further steps to fight the crisis (Griffis, et. al, 2017). In a speech in March 2018, President Trump suggested death penalty as the highest price that the opioid users would face under his leadership.
Chen, Ballantyne, & Patel, (2017) notes that given the sensitivity of the matter, the President has been criticized for acting illegally since the death penalty would not offer the right solution to the problem. It would only mean more and more people would face the penalty. It is in this case therefore that remedies like strict laws governing the use of opioids should be drafted and implemented. Chen, Ballantyne, & Patel, (2017) suggests that the government should make it mandatory for all users to attend rehabilitation centers for professional withdrawal programs, as well as increase the sentence for opioid users to at least five years in jail with no option for bail out to discourage the habit among others if the problem has to come to an end.
- Chen, A. F., Ballantyne, J. C., & Patel, M. (2017). Point/Counterpoint: Opioid abuse in the united states. Healthcare Transformation, 2(1), 9-19.
- Griffis, Charles A,PhD., C.R.N.A., Giron, Sarah E,PhD., C.R.N.A., & Darna, Jeffrey R,D.N.P., C.R.N.A. (2017). The opioid crisis and the certified registered nurse anesthetist: How can we help? AANA Journal, 85(4), 19-23.
- Stone, E. (2018). Is there “Hope for every addicted american”? the new U.S. war on drugs. Social Sciences, 7(1), 3.
- Stevens, M. (2017). Efforts to address opioid epidemic must limit overuse without restricting access for cancer pain control. HEM/ONC Today, 18(23), 1-12.
- Song, Z. (2017). Mortality quadrupled among opioid-driven hospitalizations, notably within lower-income and disabled white populations. Health Affairs, 36(12), 2054-2061.
- Vashishtha, D., Mittal, M. L., & Werb, D. (2017). The north american opioid epidemic: Current challenges and a call for treatment as prevention. Harm Reduction Journal, 14.