In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a health emergency in the states. The high number of deaths and the adverse effects caused by misuse, addiction, and overdosing of opioid drugs was alarming.
On 4th September 2019, his administration pledged $ 1.8 billion to fight the opioid crisis. The pledge of $1.8 billion is a reaffirmation of the State serious fight against the opioid crisis. In his speech, Trump stated that this could be the generation that ends the opioid addictions. The Pledge is set to liberate Americans from this scourge that has been taking thousands of lives each year.
In 2017, more than 47,000 people died from an overdose of opioid drugs in the United States. These statistics account for 2/3 of addiction deaths in the states. Fighting the opioid crisis is a war that needs dedication from the government and resources. Trump is quoted saying, "My administration is determined to use every resource at our disposal to smash the grip of addiction".
How will the $ 1.8 Billion be Utilized?
Alex Azar, the HHS secretary, stated that the grants would serve both the states and the territories. The $1.8 billion shall be divided to serve two programs aimed at fighting the opioid crisis. The first portion will be of more than $900 million, which will fund the prevention and treatment services. The second portion of more than $900 million will be used to support the tracking programs of overdose death
The channeling of the second portion will be through the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. It will fund the collection and improvement of overdose data.
These funds will also support youth programs, distribution of naloxone antidote for the overdoses of opioid, training, sensitization of both the doctors and the patients, and the expansion of telemedicine in the rural areas. The grants will ensure that all patients in both the rural and urban centers can access a specialist easily, whenever they need help.
The Funds to Reduce Deaths Caused by Overdose of Opioid Drugs
According to HHS, the number of opioid related deaths has reduced by 2.85% from 2017. The funds set aside by the government will be effective in further reducing the deaths. "We need to get accurate information about what drugs people are using, what they're overdosing from and also how many are dying and dying from what cause," Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services told Sinclair Broadcast Group in an interview after the public announcement of the Pledge by President Trump.
Azar states that HHS needs to get accurate information on what people are overdosing from, and what opioid drugs has been killing people. He told the Sinclair Broadcast Group that the money set aside for the collection of data will collect statistical data that is necessary in fighting the opioid crisis. For collection of accurate information, the statistical and health centers require proper funding.
Seizure of Illegal Circulating OpioidS
The money set aside will be useful in curbing or reducing the illegal spread of opioid drugs. There are a lot of fentanyl and other illegal opioid in the streets and in the states. Some of the opioid drugs in circulation are imported into the country, with China having a leading role.
Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump notes that the Custom and Border protection seized a lot of fentanyl in 2018. The counselor reported this in an interview in the White House. The seized fentanyl was enough to kill everybody in the United States four times over. The seizure of the deadly fentanyl and other opioid drugs needs collaboration from individuals and organizations.
Access of the Funds by Health Facilities
For the health centers to receive the grants, they will need to prove that they have connected opioid addicts to rehabilitation centers and counseling before. The health facilities need to show that they have been able to treat and even provide housing for the patients.
This Pledge is just but a reaffirmation for previous legislations by the senate
The Senate passed legislation in 2018 that asked the Administration to put in more resources and determination in fighting misuse of opioid drugs steps to fight the opioid addiction. Trump signed the legislation, and it became law. The $1.8 billion set aside will enforce the fight against opioid crisis.
The Pledge Aims at Dealing with the Root Cause of the Opioid Crisis
President Trump's initiative aims at stopping the abuse of opioid drugs and reducing the demand and supply of the drugs. The government also plans to use the funds to treat the addicted people and to increase the recovery services. Doing away with these factors will be doing away with the root cause of the opioid crisis.
The Pledge from the white house needs tremendous support from the community for it to succeed. Casey Dillon, the program director for the Advocates of Opioid Recovery is quoted from an interview saying ‘It is not enough, but it a step towards the right direction.'
Behavior and Medication Therapy
The requirements for providers seeking prevention and treatment grants are flexible. However, Alex Azar insists that addiction treatments that the facilities provide must include both therapy and medication to help the patients.
Dillon referred to the medication-assisted treatment as the ‘gold standard.' It is the most effective. Rehabilitation without medications is not as effective. It should be a combination of both. In a phone call to the reporters, Alex Azar insisted that the therapy against Opioid addiction should follow a scientific method, which requires the funding.
Dissemination of the Grants
The grants will serve both the states and the territories. Different health providers will be funded to help in the proper utilization of the grant. However, Dillon raised a concern that the grant may not get to help the communities effectively; especially if they don't get to the right target. She suggests that the government should oversee the process to ensure the money gets to the right places. She recommended that the government should send more money in the future to help put up a more spirited fight against this crisis.
The Trump's Administration boasts small victories in fighting drug addiction and deaths.
How the Pledge Helps Americans Struggling with Addiction?
The white house pledge of $1.8 billion will go a long way in reducing overdose of opioid drugs. The landmark pledge, is however, not the first step the Administration has taken to fight the crisis. Despite being the hugest step the Government has tried, different steps were taken before to help communities reduce deaths caused by opioid drugs.
Previous Moves that Seek to Combat the Opioid Crisis
The Administration estimates that about 347,000 more Americans are receiving medication treatment in 2019 than in 2016. Federally funded community health center has received a significant increase in the number of people receiving medication-assisted treatment. 142% more people are receiving medical-assisted treatment in 2018 than in 2016. Medicated rehabilitation has proved to be the most effective type of rehabilitation in fighting drugs and substance abuse.
Most Americans die due to the overdoses of Opioid drugs. However, the intake of naloxone can completely save this situation. This is why the government is working tirelessly to increase the supply of naloxone all over the states and territories. There has been a 378% increment of Naloxone dispensation since 2016.
The National Institutes of Health has launched studies to reduce deaths caused by overdose of opioids. With these steps, a lot of improvement has been seen in fighting the Opioid Crisis. In 2017, the reported number of Americans who misused Opioid was standing at 11.4 million. In 2018, the number reduced to 10.3 million. With the award of the $1.8 grant, the number is expected to reduce drastically. By implementing the new measures, the addiction cases may reduce by half.
The Role of China in the Spread of Opioid Drugs in the United States
The illegal supply of opioid drugs from China continue to frustrate the Government efforts towards combating drug addiction. Alex Azar states that China has taken a great leap in making Fentanyl an illegal product. He added that despite the illegalization of the drug in China, the United States administration keeps seizing fentanyl and Fentanyl precursors that originate from China. When asked by the reporters why the supply of Fentanyl from China has not stopped, Azar responded by saying "If China wants to make it stop, China can ensures that it stops". The funds set aside would ensure seizure of fentanyl and other deadly opioid drugs.
What are the Effects of Opioid?
Approximately, 20%-30% of Americans suffer from chronic pain. Treating severs pain has proven to be one of the toughest tasks in the medicine field. Opioid drugs are one of the most potent options used in relieving pain and relaxing a patient. They are popularly used to treat pain after trauma or surgery.
It treats both moderate and severe pains. They are sometimes used to treat nausea and diarrhea. The relaxation effect that opioid brings is the main reason why it is popularly used for non-medicinal reasons. People mostly use it to feel high.
Opioid is highly addictive and its addictiveness can be very dangerous. It may lead to overdoses and sometimes death.
Opioids have a lot of mental and physical effects when misused. Despite the dangerous and the numerous effects, they are still popular in the medical field.
What are the Effects of Opioid Drugs to the brain?
Opioid activates receptors found in the spinal cord, the brain and other parts of the body. It triggers the receptor cells responsible for pain and pleasure. When the chemicals in opioid drugs get attached to these receptor cells, they interfere with the transfer of pain signals from the brain hence blocking the pain signals.
The blockage of pain signals results to secretion of large quantities of dopamine in the body. The release of dopamine leads to the addiction. It makes the user want to increase their intake of opioid. How do opioid drugs cause hypoxia?
Intake of Opioid may result to slow breathing. They reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. Hypoxia is the condition that results when too little oxygen is available in the brain. Hypoxia can result to long term or short term psychological and neurological effects. Also, it might cause permanent brain damage, coma or death.
Intake of opioid drugs impairs correct judgment and thinking. Using them may encourage one to make haste decisions and take risks. The person may feel okay and daring, when they are actually putting themselves in danger. The false confidence that the addiction of these drugs give can be dangerous.
Opioid drugs are very addictive. According to Mayo Clinic, after 5 days of using the prescribed opioid drugs, your dependency on them rapidly rises. Most people addicted to opioid drugs started using the drugs as prescribed drugs from their doctors. The prescriptions they got slowly made them dependent to the drugs. The dependency makes them start purchasing the drugs over-the-counter, or even take wrong doses to relieve the craving.
The addiction of the opioid drugs eventually leads to overdose. A lot of people who overdose or get addicted to opioid drugs do not have prescriptions of the drugs. According to Mayo Clinic, most opioid addicts get them from their family members or friends.
What are the Other Side Effects of Opioid Drugs?
When your body gets used to opioid drug, it gets a relaxed feeling all the time. However, you are most likely going to experience withdrawal symptom when you abruptly stop using the drugs. This is why the patients keep using them, to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms from these drugs include muscle pain, anxiety, irritability, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
How Do You Use Opioid Drugs to Avoid Developing an Addiction?
As stated earlier, most people addicted to opioid drugs were initially patients who had prescriptions from the doctor. In some cases, opioid treatment is chosen over other pain reliving treatment because of its effectiveness over other options. If opioid treatment is prescribed to you, how do you use it to avoid dependency and overdosing?
First, ensure you are taking the drugs as prescribed by the doctor. Do not purchase over-the-counter opioid drugs. During your medication, keep in touch with your doctor. The doctor will help you detect any side effects and help ensure that you stick to the dose. Never use an opioid drug that is not prescribed to you.
Do not change or stop using prescribed opioid drugs without consulting your physician. In case the drug is not effective, your doctor can always change it by letting you try other options.
A Summary of the Short and Long-term Effects of Using Opioid Drugs
Short term effects of opioid drugs include:
Important Points to Remember
.Use of opioids drugs is done through taking someone else's prescription, taking medicine in different ways from the prescribed, and using the drugs to get high.
The opioid crisis in the US needs a spirited fight. The step by the White House to fight the crisis is a good move to the US residents. Curbing the addiction may be challenging, but it will be definitely worth the fight. If you are fighting the opioid addiction, visit a rehabilitation center, or attend a rehabilitation program.
Do not fight the addiction alone. Seek out help from your doctor and permanently stop the weird craving that could ruin your life. A lot of behavioral and medicinal therapies are given to addicts as a way of helping them control the dependence of opioid medicines.
If you feel dependent or if you notice that a relative is misusing opioid drugs, assist them in finding the right help. Visit a doctor, and they will help you find other non-opioid options that are effective in relieving pain.