Fighting the Opioid Addiction Epidemic
A fight that has been gaining turmoil over the last several months has finally gained real momentum. In recent weeks, government officials from both federal and state levels have once again called for stronger efforts in tackling the country’s opioid crisis. With no end in sight to the frighteningly rapid rise in opioid overdose deaths, these state and federal officials have had enough.
New measures include changes such as limiting opioid prescriptions, getting more people into addiction treatment and recovery programs, and investigating the role pharmaceutical companies may be playing in all of this. In 2015, opioids caused a record-setting 33,000+ deaths in the United States alone.
The Industry’s Role
Pharmaceutical companies are run like other big businesses, where profits and capital gains often take precedence over consumer safety and wellbeing. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri stated last month “we want to get to the bottom of why all of a sudden opioids have been handed out like candy in this country”. McCaskill and other lawmakers are calling for an investigation into these pharmaceutical companies, their marketing strategies, and the knowledge they have of the extremely high risks associated with these drugs. A chief concern in this investigation is that companies have knowingly been using deceptive marketing practices to push the prescribing of opioids while downplaying their addictive nature. McCaskill is also seeking information on whether these companies donated to groups that work to block increased regulation of opioids.
The Prescription Source
Many states are now trying to enact prescribing regulations to limit the availability of prescription opioids. The only way to tackle the current over-prescribing issue is at the source – the Doctors. Currently, doctors are allowed to prescribe 30 to 90 days of opioids. That is THREE MONTHS worth of opioids with no follow-up appointment, medication management, or medical supervision. New regulations aim to limit the length and availability of these prescriptions. In Virginia, physicians must log opioid prescriptions into a database to assess whether a patient has previously been prescribed opioids by another doctor. Ohio has enforced a new rule that limits acute pain prescriptions to no more than seven days, or five for minors.
Though they view the restrictions as positive overall, many physicians do have concerns with regulating medical practice. These type of restrictions straddle the line between preventing further opioid abuse, and stepping on a doctor’s toes when it comes to the treatment of their chronic pain patients. Ohio has helped to soften the line with special exemptions for hospice patients, cancer patients, or those in a medication-assisted treatment program. These governmental measures may help prevent further addiction problems down the road, but there is still the issue of those who are currently addicted and in need of treatment.
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order setting up a commission to address the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. The panel would identify federal funding that could be used to help people with opioid use disorder. Programs would include long-term support services and medical treatments. In spite of the recent improvements in mental health coverage, 89 percent of Americans who needed treatment for an illegal drug or alcohol problem did not receive treatment in the past year, according to 2013 federal data. Getting more people into treatment means addressing many issues, including access to quality programs, affordability, and insurance coverage.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to prescription opioids, consider seeking treatment today. A New Start, Inc. is a Premier Intensive Outpatient Treatment Center located in South Florida. We cater to clients from all over the United States at our beautiful West Palm Beach facility. Our dedicated staff provides therapy services, support and guidance throughout the recovery process. To learn more about treatment with A New Start, Inc. please call 1-844-TALK-ANS.