Opioid Crisis Still Raging

Opioids remain one of the biggest issues in the nation even as doctors prescribe them less and less. They especially pose a risk for adolescents and young adults.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines opioids as a class of drugs that includes synthetic opioids, pain relievers (such as morphine and codeine) and illegal drugs like heroin. In the past they were often prescribed – and over-prescribed – as pain relievers for patients. Many doctors have begun to move away from prescribing them when not absolutely necessary because of the cases of addiction that sprung from their use. The problem lies in the effects the drugs have. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids produce feelings of happiness and anti-depressant effects in addition to pain relief. The institute says that these effects can lead to dependency and addiction even with legally prescribed medication.

Even as it receives less coverage in media, the opioid problem remains important. The Department of Health and Human Services claims that more people than ever are dying from overdosing on opioids, with an increase of 30 percent in 45 states from 2016 to 2017. Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national Public Health Emergency in 2017, and adolescents are especially affected by this crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that the rate of of overdose deaths among people age 15 to 24 is rising, with over half attributed to opioids. Along with this, the CDC estimates that for each young adult that dies from overdose, there are 119 emergency room visits related to drugs. All these point to the fact that the issue has yet to be resolved.

The nation makes slow but sure movement toward resolving the opioid crisis. USA Today reported on Oct. 3, 2018 that the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid crisis by strengthening addiction programs, monitoring prescriptions and providing more information on alternative treatments. Whether these things make a noticeable difference in the nation will likely not be known for some time, but it is important that the issue remains acknowledged and that progress is made in resolving it.