Public health emergency issued for opioid epidemic: Is it enough?

By Courtney Gast

Hundreds of Americans everyday die from opioid use, and thousands die each year which, in turn, out numbers the total deaths from car accidents and other acts of violence. States call out for help with the epidemic while President Trump issues a public health emergency.

While his acts of prevention are somewhat reasonable, they really do not tackle the main issue of the current drug problem. Prevention is obviously an effort to stop the source of where the dealers get their drugs, but what about those who are still battling their addiction? What about the resources they can turn to? It is nonexistent. Trump has tried, but it is not enough.  

Trump’s idea of prevention is the use of regulation and education. While this is a solution, it is not very effective. Someone can regulate all the drugs in the world, but it does not prevent people from going back and requesting more. The more people request the more apt they are to become addicted, which leads to them obtaining drugs from dealers or stealing them from other people.

Trump’s second solution of education is highly ineffective. In general, people rarely go to the doctor, and when they do, they are in extreme amounts of pain. When they reach this amount of pain, people really do not care about the consequences — they just want the pain to go away. Education in the moment is ineffective, but it would be more beneficial at a younger age.

In elementary, middle and high school, children learn about the consequences of alcohol and smoking, but other drugs are not heavily discussed. Introducing children to this education at a young age would be more effective. Although this is all helpful to effectively prevent opioid use, there must be a point when there is a focus on the current issue: drug addicts themselves.

Prevention and education will only work to a certain degree. A doctor can tell an addict that the drug is addictive and will do harm, but obviously, the addict already knows that. A drug addict can overdose, and a paramedic can give Narcan, but this only stops the overdose. It does nothing to prevent it from happening again. With a lack in support for drug addicts, they have nowhere to turn, and when they do, they do not know about them.

Having rehab facilities more readily available and having adequate funding could cause a dramatic decrease in deaths every year. Think just slightly about this. Thousands of people die every year from overdosing, yet thousands more are just receiving Narcan when they overdose. These patients are then taken to a hospital where they are taken care of, monitored, informed about help they can receive and then let loose later.

What if they could get help right then and there? What if they were taken to a rehab facility shortly after going to a hospital? This would encourage addicts to get help. Obviously, the facility cannot hold them hostage and force them to stay, but addicts could still get an introduction to rehab and could make the choice right then and there. Maybe this could only happen in a perfect world, but the solutions that are readily available are stepping stones in the right direction. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.


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