Sample Nursing Essay Paper on Opioids Crisis

Opioids Crisis

            Opioids are manufactured drugs that act on opioid receptors in the brain to relieve body pain. They have morphine-like effects, and they include fentanyl, heroin, and methadone. Initially, physicians and researchers were of the opinion that opioid pain relievers (OPRs) could not lead to addiction but, later, they found that they were wrong. In response to this crisis, physicians were restricted in offering opioids, and tough legislation passed for the pill mills (Cicero, 2018). However, this measure did not reduce the intake of opioids; instead, it made addicts turn to abuse heroin, which was cheap, readily available, and unrestricted in intake. Therefore, this essay focuses on opioids addiction, the cures that were used to aid in reducing addictions, and the consequences of the curative methods.

Clinical Question

Problem Description

OPRs, especially methadone, are effective painkillers. However, their increasing use leads to addiction, while overdose may lead to death. To avoid addictions and death, the government suggested a reduction in the use of opioids in pain relieving by “legislative efforts targeting pill mills, a crackdown on “script” doctors, changes in physician prescribing practices motivated in part by new practice, and prescription monitoring programs” (Cicero, 2018). This step worsened the crisis by opening channels for heroin intake. Cicero (2018) believes that the “cure” may have exacerbated the crisis and generated an even more serious problem. This situation brought about an opioid crisis involving more deaths and addition.

The Significance of the Problem in Terms of Outcomes or Statistics 

Daily, an estimated 130 people in the U.S. die due to opioids overdose. Those who are lucky to survive are left addicted to opioids. According to statistics released by NIDA (2019), 47,000 citizens died in 2017 from abuse of opioids pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl. An additional 1.7 million people were addicted to opioids pain relievers and 652,000 citizens affected by heroin abuse. Opioids patients who misuse pain relievers transit to using heroin.

The CDC (2018) estimates that $78.5 billion “economic burden” is imposed annually for the treatment of health issues associated with opioids abuse. Moreover, according to their research, drug-overdosing rates have intensely increased to 21.5%, with deaths due to synthetic opioids other than methadone increasing doubly, deaths due to prescription overdose increasing by 10.6%, and heroin overdose deaths increasing by 19.5 percent. Additionally, Cerdá, et al. (2015) in their article published under the title “Nonmedical prescription opioid use in childhood and early adolescence predicts transitions to heroin use in young adulthood,” claims that 82.6 percent of continuous non-medical users that were addicted to heroin in the previous year, admitted to using opioid pain pills before diverting to heroin. Therefore, the slowdown reported in the U.S. economy can be attributed to the money spent in taking care of opioid addicts whose number continues to grow.

As the government restricts access to pain relievers, users have to choose between avoiding OPRs and switching to heroin. However, switching to a cheaper and more available opioid such as heroin brings “transmission of blood-borne pathogens from sharing needles, cardiovascular problems, and other medical complications” (Cicero, 2018).  Due to the improper dosage of heroin, there are more overdose deaths associated with heroin than OPRs.

PICOT Question in Support of the Group Topic

For adult patients with opioid addiction, how effective is rehabilitation compared to the progressive reduction in intake of opioids in reducing death rates and addiction after administration of the methods?

Purpose

  • To investigate the trends of death rates and addictions brought about by progressive intake of opioids.
  • To check the measures adopted by the government to reduce addictions and deaths associated with opioids intake.
  • To pursue the measures taken and their impact on opioids crisis.

Levels of Evidence

Type of Question Asked

Is reducing access to OPRs by adults meant to relieve the pain a solution or a bigger problem to the present opioid crisis?

Best Evidence Found to Answer the Question

Cicero (2018) in his article titled “Is a Reduction in Access to Prescription Opioids the Cure for the Current Opioid Crisis?” states that the solutions to the current opioid crisis have unanticipated consequences, as the cure for opioids addiction is worse than the disease itself. He added that reduction in intake of methadone and other OPRs made the patients resort to heroin, which was readily available without any limit on the amount one can get. This situation worsened the problem since people were very careless as there was no specific dosage and sharing of needles led to contraction of other illnesses.

The reason behind heroin intake is addiction. Hence, instead of the government restricting usage of OPRs, it should close all possible demands for heroin and offer the assistance to the addicted individuals in its correction facilities (Cicero, 2018). Such an arrangement will ensure that addicted patients have no access to harmful drugs and the required drugs are given in the right dosage to avoid addiction.

The number of people addicted to heroin increased with most of them being patients of medicinal opioids who were denied access to those drugs (Cerdá, et al., 2015). The above situation meant that instead of the situation improving, it was worsening.

Search Strategy

Search Terms

Opioids, prescription opioids drugs (PODs), opioids crisis, and opioids addiction

Databases

Google scholar

Two Important Articles

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). US drug overdose deaths continue to rise: Increase fueled by synthetic opioids [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/ releases/2018/p0329-drug-overdosedeaths.html

Cicero, T. J. (2018). Is a reduction in access to prescription opioids the cure for the current opioid crisis? American Journal of Public Health, 108(10), 1322–1323. https://doi-org.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304648

            The continuous use of OPRs to reduce pain results in addiction and to even early deaths in worst cases. The measure taken to reduce the use of OPRs by patients did not reduce the usage of opioids; instead, it opened channels to use of other opioids, such as heroin and synthetic fentanyl. This situation resulted in more deaths and addiction than in case of the initially prescribed opioids drugs due to consumption of the drugs in wrong dosages and sharing of needles. As such, the government opened correctional centers to treat patients addicted to OPRs.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). US drug overdose deaths continue to rise: Increase fueled by synthetic opioids [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/ releases/2018/p0329-drug-overdosedeaths.html.

Cerdá, M., Santaella, J., Marshall, B. D., Kim, J. H., & Martins, S. S. (2015). Nonmedical prescription opioid use in childhood and early adolescence predicts transitions to heroin use in young adulthood: a national study. The Journal of pediatrics167(3), 605-612.

Cicero, T. J. (2018). Is a reduction in access to prescription opioids the cure for the current opioid crisis? American Journal of Public Health, 108(10), 1322–1323. https://doi-org.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304648

NIDA. (2019). Opioid overdose crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis