The Opioid Epidemic in United States

If you were to have pain the first thing that comes to mind is to take an over the counter medicine such as Advil. This will help you feel better for a short time. Before you know it, you have already consumed a bunch of pills within the few hours of your initial pain. Eventually, you will realize that its best that you seek medical attention from doctor. This is your mind telling you that your not okay. Worse comes to worse your doctor might prescribe you to a drug far worse, an opioid.

You might think an opioid is just a pill that can take away your pain. Although its history and scientific facts, opioids can be addictive and may lead you to a bad path.

One of the biggest problems in the world today is pill addiction. These are not just any ordinary pills such as Tylenol and Motrin. Opioids, one of today’s largest growing drugs that is continuing to cause controversy.

A big concern on the rise: Why are opioids being misused if they are meant to help people? People who are abusing these drugs are reselling them and taking bigger dosages than prescribed. Some opioid drugs used to be sold over the counter. One example of an opioid that was sold over the counter was codiene. This drugs was to help sickly patients with pneumonia or common colds. Now, codiene is being sold to its abusers and mixed with caffienated beverages.This cough syrup was once used for colds, has now gone global throughout the world for abusers to get a hold on.

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Nigerian lawmakers estimate that the residents of just two states in the country’s north consume more than 3 million bottles of it each day. (Siobhán O’Grady, Washington Post)“There is no family now that is not affected,” said Oluyemisi Ogun, the medical director at a psychiatric hospital in Lagos, at a symposium in Nigeria last year.

“Our children are at risk as much as our husbands, wives and other relatives.”(Oluyemisi Ogun) Opioids at one point were listed as a helping ailment to the body when you were not feeling well. Whether it was physically or psychologically; opioids didn’t have such an inpact on people becoming addicted. Pills are being misused and the government is trying to figure out how to control the epidemic. According to Sally Satel, ‘On March 1, 2017, Maryland governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency. Heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, had killed 1,468 Maryland residents in the first nine months of 2016, up 62% from the same period in 2015’. The drug epidemic continue to rise to the point that space of burial is limited, for those who have overdosed. ‘In Ohio, some coroners have run out of space for the bodies of overdose victims and have to use a mobile, refrigerated morgue. In West Virginia, state burial funds have been exhausted burying overdose victims. Opioid orphans are lucky if their grandparents can raise them; if not, they are at the mercy of foster-care systems that are now overflowing with the children of addicted parents’.(National Affairs, Summer 2017)This is very disturbing to be the parent of these victims and to hear, ‘Unfortunately we are limited on space’ is detrimental.

One of the biggest questions for this issue is; What is causing this addiction? I think the doctors should be the blame of these drugs. They are the ones who are prescribing the patients these medications. Are doctors thoroughly undergoing alternatives before prescribing patients these addictive drugs? According to David Epstein, a journalist from the atlantic website, In a 2013 study, a dozen doctors from around the country examined all 363 articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine over a decade—2001 through 2010—that tested a current clinical practice, from the use of antibiotics to treat people with persistent Lyme disease symptoms (didn’t help) to the use of specialized sponges for preventing infections in patients having colorectal surgery (caused more infections). Their results, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found 146 studies that proved or strongly suggested that a current standard

practice either had no benefit at all or was inferior to the practice it replaced; 138 articles supported the efficacy of an existing practice, and the remaining 79 were deemed inconclusive. One of the president’s top candidates to head the FDA, tech investor Jim O’Neill, has openly advocated for drugs to be approved before they’re shown to work. “Let people start using them at their own risk,” O’Neill has argued. This statement shows so many wrongs in what’s going on in todays society. There are people who hold the most important positions in the FDA gambling with others livelyhoods. Who is to say a licensed doctor is able to ‘wing it’ when prescribing his patient a drug that may lead to addition. The thoughts of reading article of how the DEA determine to fight the opioid addiction is astounding. How can we as Americans stop the opioid epedimic? A 2007 Journal of the American Medical Association paper coauthored by John Ioannidis—a Stanford University medical researcher and statistician who rose to prominence exposing poor-quality medical science—found that it took 10 years for large swaths of the medical community to stop referencing popular practices after their efficacy was unequivocally vanquished by science.This meant that it took them a decade to realize that due to its science it was unequiviocal.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued comprehensive guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. These prescribing recommendations say that non-opioid treatments are the preferred first step for treatment of chronic pain. Opioid medications should only be added after careful assessment of pain control and followed by regular evaluations of their continued need. So if the CDC is reccomending non-opioid treatments during the first step; Why arent doctors doing so? If doctors were in suggestion of CDC’s recommendations there would be much less drug overdoses. What can we do to help cut down the misused prescribed medications? Improvement in opioid therapy can occur through research and training to aid practitioners to determine the appropriate patient subpopulations and treatment protocols to achieve satisfactory outcomes.(Rosenblum et al., 2018) According to DrugAbuse.Gov ‘Manufacturers of prescription drugs continue to work on new formulations of opioid medications, known as abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF), which include technologies designed to prevent people from misusing them by snorting or injection.’ These companies are making ways, that if the patient attempts to take more than recommended it may have a rejectional phase. Meaning, the patient will eventually give up trying to misuse the prescribed drug. These method can set a positive impact on abusers. Some may stop completely on the abuse. And others may continue to do it but no effect will happen which can be a good thing.

The main priority is stopping fatalities. Nobody wants to continue to bury their love ones for bad choices. Not everyone quickly becomes addicted. I personally believe that some opioid cases has been psychologically driven.Writen by journalist Lewis Marc, The Guardian, In an article on the CNN site posted on October 29, “Experts say the United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic, as more than two million of Americans have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and street drugs’. Most of the people who are abusing opioids are not the ones who are originally subscribed in the first place. So you mean to tell me that, these abusers who are getting their hands on prescribed drugs are not the ones medically prescribed. This raises so many questions. Should we blame the people who are prescribed the medicine as the abuser? Should the pharmacuetical companies be held reliable? Everyone plays a major part in abusing these drugs. Stricter access to the drugs can potentially help. This can be more effiecent than the suggested materials CDC has provided. Either way the abuse has to stop. We have so many people from all around the world losing their lives by getting their hands on what can help others if taken accordingly. In conclusion this can set a very positive impact on others who were once a victim, as well as our children future.


  1. Lewis, Marc. “The Truth about the US ‘Opioid Crisis’ – Prescriptions Aren’t the Problem | Marc Lewis.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 Nov. 2017,
  2. O’Grady, Siobhán. “Nigeria Bans Codeine Cough Syrup to Stop an Addiction Epidemic. But Something Worse Could Take Its Place.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 May 2018,
  3. Poison Prevention Materials,
  4. ProPublica, David Epstein and. “When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 22 Feb. 2017,
  5. Rosenblum, A., Marsch, L., Joseph, H. and Portenoy, R. (2018). Opioids and the treatment of chronic pain: Controversies, current status, and future directions.
  6. Satel, Sally. ‘Taking On the Scourge of Opioids.’ The Reference Shelf: Prescription Drug Abuse, edited by H.W. Wilson, Salem, 2017. Salem Online.

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The Opioid Epidemic in United States. (2022, May 16). Retrieved from

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