Opioid addiction is like a monster that’s threatening to sweep out millions of Americans. Two years ago, the opioid crisis claimed lives of 59,000 US citizens. Approximations suggest an entire 2.6 million prescriptions (treatment) opioid addicts in America—and almost twice that number of heroin abusers. So far, over 77 million Americans have suffered due to the crisis one way or another.
The matter is now a federal issue with the medical and pharmaceutical sectors at the centre of the problem, as America continues to receive an inflow of low-priced heroin from dealers from Mexico and US-controlled Afghanistan which has led to the spread of synthetic super-opioids, e.g., fentanyl in many parts of the nation
Find out more facts about the American Opioid situation.
President Trump’s “No Hope” talk
Back in Oct. 2017, President Trump announced the opioid catastrophe “a public health emergency.” Unfortunately, he also stated that the budget was too tight to cater for the national calamity, and his admin put pressure on state and local authorities to take the responsibility.
Furthermore, the GOP tax bill would have led to budget constraints on Medicare, Medicaid, as well as other programs which offer the financing local governments require to control the crisis.
Children are unseen victims of America’s opioid crisis. Tens of thousands of kids have been abandoned by addicted parents, left parentless by overdoses, or forced out of their homes by protective services. In 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services reported recording 92,000 new children into the foster system due to the opioid crisis. America had never seen a figure this high in 30 years after the 1980s crack epidemic. And this time, it was opioids that raised the numbers. The same year saw Georgia, Indiana, and West Virginia record the largest surge in opioid-related foster placements.
There’s also a rise in the count of babies that are born addicted to heroin with shrill yells, insomnia, and tremors while Neonatal abstinence syndrome causes unbearable withdrawal pains.
The Remedy for an Overdose
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can immediately reverse an overdose (and save your life) by binding to the opioid receptors in your brains. Generic versions of Naloxone have existed for years, and now, six firms concentrate on naloxone production. Five of the producers have it in venous forms while the last one has it in the form of a nasal spray known as Narcan—which police and medics use because it is easy to administer.
However, we’ve received mixed reactions from the local police force and subjects to opioid antidotes. To begin with, many people claim Naloxone “enables” its users. And While Ohio’s Clermont County Sheriff considers it a “call of duty for deputies” to carry the precautionary nasal spray, the Sherrif for Butler County wants his deputies to keep off Narcan because the task is a medical duty that’d better performed by health experts.
In Oct. 2016, national regulators decided to ban a plant that would have helped alleviate the opioid crisis. Two months earlier, the DEA classified the Southeast Asian kratom as Schedule I together with heroin and LSD. The Drug Enforcement Agency is blaming kratom for the demise of 15 people from 2014 to 2016. But 14 other of all those 15 had other forms of drugs in their system.
Kratom is typically taken in a tea, and it contains mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine— the chemicals that trigger the brains’ opioid receptors. At smaller doses, kratom offers a gentle stimulation. But at higher doses, it has a sedative effect and numbs the body to reduce pain. Kratom could serve a less addictive solution to opioids. But US citizens should consider safer ways like the waismann method.
An Anti-Opioid Vaccine
Some scholars are testing vaccines in response to the opioid calamity. They aim to stop the drugs’ frenzy while lessening the withdrawal signs. An immunization would produce antibodies that target opioid molecules. After the admission of the vaccine, users find that the drug molecules bind with antibodies before reaching the brain.
But every effort to come up with an opioid vaccine since the 1970s has failed. Previous results were not able to produce enough antibodies to offer an effective opioid defence in humans. But experts are not giving up hope.
A costly epidemic
According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimated the exact cost of the US opioid plague in 2015 at a whopping $504 billion. This number was six times more than it had been expected, and 2.8 percent of the nation’s GDP the same year.
This figure makes up money consumed on healthcare and criminal justice plus those used up in lost productivity. The situation is worsening. Within the last ten years, deaths due to overdoses have doubled. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends over $116 million per year on opioid-addiction related researches.
A Far-reaching Problem
The American opioid crisis may be a symptom of a deeper problem. Recent studies show that some rural California counties, record a double death rate of whites aged between 25 and 35. The research also noted that opioid overdoses caused over 33 percent of the shooting numbers. Alcohol-related illnesses and suicide ranked.
The rise in self-inflicted death rates causes many to suspect that rural white Californians may be killing themselves out of despair. The shifting economy has led the population to feel excluded, turning toward suicide and chemicals.
In October 2016, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) testified that 50 percent (nearly half) of all opioid overdose deaths in the year were related to fentanyl.
Fentanyl is synthetic opioid that only medics are allowed to administer it legally. The drug killed no less than 20,000 people the same year.
The drug is also 50 times more powerful than heroin and has turn out to be the opioid of choice in most parts of America—e.g., New England. The DEA stated that much of the fentanyl that circulates in New England streets come from Mexico through Chinese precursors.
Cartels take advantage of New England’s history of abusing prescription painkillers. Earlier, they came with “garbage heroin” which was 18 percent pure. But starting 2015, they started marketing a product called “China White”—allegedly of higher purity and potency. In reality, it was just heroin spiked with some fentanyl.
The bottom line
The opioid catastrophe deserves more attention than American are giving it. The federal government should handle the problem with extra care.