02 Jun Opioid Addiction
In a White House weekly address, President Obama and the Grammy award winning artist, Macklemore, discussed the troubling issue of opioid addiction in the United States. Their address arrived on the same day that President Obama called on Congress to pass new funding in the amount of $1.1 billion to ensure that treatment is accessible for every American suffering with an opioid abuse disorder who wants it.
Over the past 20 years, prescription opioid abuse and dependence have escalated rapidly and illicit use of opioids is now the fastest growing substance abuse issue in the US. Epidemiologic data from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 12.5 million Americans reported abusing prescription opioids, which was significantly increased from the reported 4.9 million in 1992.
Deaths from overdoses now claim more lives each year than traffic accidents, and death from opioid abuse has tripled since 2000; and many of these deaths are from legal prescription medications that have been prescribed by physicians. Most overdose deaths result from respiratory suppression and loss of consciousness. However, most overdose deaths can be prevented if treatment that reverses symptoms is given within an acute time period. To this point, Obama and his administration are looking to expand recovery services, and give EMS the tools that they need to treat overdose before it’s too late.
Talking about the issue isn’t sufficient, treatment needs to be available to those who need and want it. Obama mentioned that his administration is trying to reduce overdose deaths throughout the country and are working with law enforcement to get individuals into treatment programs, rather than jail. Further, Obamacare mandates that health plans in the marketplace must include treatment for addiction in their coverage. Another important point that Obama mentioned is that physicians need more training on the painkillers that they’re prescribing, including all of the risks that are involved with these medications. Pain management is a delicate science and is now front and center in the US as policy makers and healthcare providers attempt to decrease the negative effects that are associated with increased access to prescription opioids while, at the same time, ensure that pain is adequately treated.
As Macklemore stated in the address, addiction doesn’t discriminate, it affects individuals without regard to race, sex, social status, or educational background – it can happen to anyone. To reduce the shame and stigma that is all too often associated with opioid addiction, the conversation of addiction needs to be made public so that those suffering with this disease seek treatment in time.
- Watch Barack Obama, Macklemore Discuss Opioid Addiction. Rolling Stone. 2016. Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/watch-barack-obama-macklemore-discuss-opioid-addiction-20160514. Accessed May 27, 2016.
- Why We Need More Resources for the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic. whitehousegov. 2016. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/05/12/why-we-need-more-resources-prescription-opioid-and-heroin-epidemic. Accessed May 27, 2016.
- Bart G. Maintenance Medication for Opiate Addiction: The Foundation of Recovery. Journal of Addictive Diseases. 2012;31(3):207-225. doi:10.1080/10550887.2012.694598.
- Prescription Opioid Misuse, Abuse, and Treatment in the United States: An Update | American Journal of Psychiatry. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2016. Available at: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15020262. Accessed May 27, 2016.