The purpose of this paper is to analyze the opiate addiction problem, describe the contributing factors, and suggest ways of resolving the issue. This report also covers the possible changes in the perception of law enforcement and justice systems by the population. Most importantly, it explores the seemingly innocent ways medical professionals introduce people to addictive drugs, and in doing so, contribute to this substance abuse emergency.
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The opiate addiction problem is part of the opioid crisis, a countywide epidemic killing over a hundred Americans every day. First, it is essential to state the subtle yet significant difference between opiates and opioids. The term opiate refers only to naturally derived drugs, such as heroin, codeine, or morphine, while opioids include any narcotics, natural and synthetic, that affect the opioid receptors in the brain (Martin et al., 2019).
Since many opioids are prescription medication, for example, hydrocodone and oxycodone, people with pain issues may be introduced to them by their doctors. The false sense of security given by this, combined with the fact that every dose increases the chance of addiction, and dependency is developed in just a few days, puts many patients at risk.
While the probability of developing an addiction is relatively slim and difficult to calculate, almost every opioid user becomes dependent. That means they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug (Martin et al., 2019). It is because of these symptoms that they may turn to illegal opiates when their prescribed course ends (Waljee, Li, Brummett, & Englesbe, 2019). Newborn children can also experience withdrawal symptoms if their parents used opioids. Another contributing factor is medicine sharing, a dangerous practice conducted by people wanting to save time and money on doctor visits. Due to the fact that every prescription is made for a specific patient, taking another person’s pills has an unsurprisingly high likelihood of adverse effects.
Since chemical dependency is an illness, it should primarily be viewed as a healthcare issue. The proposed recommendations aim to address the root of the problem as well as help rehabilitate the thousands of people already affected. Firstly, medical personnel should not prescribe opioids for long-term issues, such as chronic pain, and use non-addictive drugs instead (Waljee et al., 2017). Secondly, schools are advised to conduct seminars promoting order and discipline in relation to using medicine.
Finally, it is suggested that more law enforcement officers treat addicts as people in need of help and not criminals who have to be punished. Instead of sending drug abusers to prison, where they might still be exposed to narcotics, the court could give them a chance to recover in the form of free consultations with a medical professional.
As a result of the policy revisions mentioned above, the community’s perception of the criminal justice system is likely to change as well. A larger part of the society may start seeing this institution as something that works to help people lead a safer life. In general, the reaction to the new strategy is expected to be positive, as the public seems to be calling for it.
In conclusion, while at the moment opioid addiction has the possibility to affect many people, it can be significantly reduced by using a more cautious approach to prescription drugs. With the knowledge of the dangers of addictive substances, people will be less likely to agree to take them for a prolonged period. No matter how desperate the opioid crisis may seem now, it has a realistic solution.
Martin, J. A., Werner, C. T., Mitra, S., Zhong, P., Wang, Z. J., Gobira, P. H.,… & Hagarty, D. (2019). A novel role for the actin-binding protein drebrin in regulating opiate addiction. Nature communications, 10(1), 1-11.
Waljee, J. F., Li, L., Brummett, C. M., & Englesbe, M. J. (2017). Iatrogenic opioid dependence in the United States: Are surgeons the gatekeepers? Annals of surgery, 265(4), 728-730.