Nearly 2.5 million Americans are hooked on opioids like prescription painkillers or heroin.
Each day, 44 Americans die from an opioid overdose. We’re in the midst of ever growing addiction epidemic.
Can anything be done to reverse this dangerous trend? Because the current opioid crisis affects our nation as a whole, the government could play a significant role in slowing this deadly trend.
If our legislators would ramp up intervention efforts and pass key initiatives, many agree it could make a huge impact on the opioid epidemic.
Let’s Talk About Strategies That Help
Let’s look at seven of those potential strategies and how they could positively impact the nation’s drug crisis:
- #1 – Track Trends
Better information systems could provide real-time assessment of the opioid epidemic. Officials could use prescription drug monitoring programs and other data systems to identify trends, then address the driving force behind abuse and dependency rates.
- #2 – Dissect Coroners’ Work
Policy makers could develop more complete and rapid testing for drugs involved in overdose deaths. Access to information from medical examiner’s and coroner’s reports could lead to better responses to changing patterns and more effective interventions.
- #3 – Reduce Prescriptions
Opioids are often prescribed for pain that could be treated with other solutions. The government could promote more cautious prescribing and limit opioid prescriptions to only the most serious of medical conditions, such as cancer. Opiate dependency can occur in just a few days, so limiting the number of pills to three days of medication could reduce the chance of misuse and abuse.
- #4 – Halt Marketing
Painkiller manufacturers target people with chronic conditions. Yet, their health problems often don’t benefit from opioids, or the risks far outweigh the potential benefits. The FDA could restrict or eliminate marketing efforts in these situations.
- #5 – Improve Insurance
Better coverage for non-opioid pain management could cut down on medication usage and improve outcomes. Policy makers could expand insurance coverage to fully reimburse non-prescription painkillers, physical therapy, and other alternative pain management options.
- #6 – Stop the Cycle
The legal system could offer substance abuse treatment more frequently as an alternative to incarceration. Correctional facilities could provide more treatment for addicted inmates and follow-up services to keep them on track after release. With these services in place, the government could break the cycle of chemical dependency, incarceration, relapse, and escalating crime.
- #7 – Identify Early
Policy makers could require medical professionals to check Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs before prescribing opioids. State health officials could watch for increasing dosages, high-volumes of prescriptions, and other indicators of opioid dependency. Alert for these warning signs, officials could facilitate earlier treatment and referrals for other services, reducing the risk of overdose and other medical complications.
We Must All Play a Part
When it’s all said and done, however, it’s not solely the government’s responsibility to take action against the opioid epidemic. Turning the tide will require effort on every level, from individual all the way up to federal. But if the government takes the lead by supporting strong intervention initiatives, it could give our nation a very real chance at beating this lethal crisis.
Additional Reading: AG Sessions – Creating a Culture Hostile on Drug Abuse
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