Executive summary: An end to the Opioid Crisis

Opioid report Summary.

The report’s objective was to examine the Opioid crisis and come up with recommendations for policymakers on how to curb this socio-economic scourge. The Opioid epidemic involves the overuse and abuse of opioid drugs, which lead to significant medical and socio-economic consequences or even worse death. Opioids are a class of drugs that act on the brain to give a variety of effects, including pain relief. Opioids drugs range from prescription medications to street drugs such as heroin. The three main types of opioids include natural opiates that occur in plants, semi-synthetic that are created in labs, and fully synthetic that is entirely human-made. Opioid drugs pose a very high risk of addiction and overdose.

Addiction

Addiction is the compulsive inability to stop taking a drug or substance even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is listed under substance use disorders and is described as defined as clinically significant impairment and distress resulting from problematic opioid use. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Opioids are the third most costly substance hence shows the economic severity of OUD.

Impacts of addiction

OUD impact profoundly on both healthcare and social costs. The cost of inpatients hospitalization, day surgeries, and other opioid-related health services accounted for 29% of all substance use costs in Canada. Socials costs in the community are significantly felt in the community as addictions lead to less productivity, absenteeism, and inadequate performance of duties in workplaces. Addiction accounts for premature mortality resulting in deaths from overdose. The healthcare and social costs are significantly felt as they continue to affect families, communities, and the nation at large.

Theories on Opioid use disorder

Scientists believe that several factors contribute to addiction and substance use disorder. These factors include Genetic theory, which argues that individuals with family members with substance use disorder (SUD) have a higher risk of developing SUD as genes are inherited down the family line due to the genetic makeup. Environmental theory- factors such as one’s environment and people in the environment greatly influence individual development to SUD. Traumatized and oppressed people have a high risk of developing SUD as they try coping with the problems they are facing. Neurobiological theory- If a healthy natural opiate apparatus, which helps soothe pain and emotional bonding, is not developed, individuals are prone to look for drugs to relieve their psychological and physical pain.

Dealing with addictions

There are several ways of dealing with addictions. Opioid Agonist Therapy involves the substitution of opioid drugs, which eliminates side effects of withdrawal, reduce cravings for opioid prescriptions, and help restore balance to the brain circuits affected by addiction. Another way is the psychological intervention, which involves reinforcing positive behaviors such as abstinence by rewarding the addicts. Since substance use and addiction is criminalized in Canada, most offenders end up in correctional facilities. Offenders should be subjected to both counseling and methadone maintenance therapy. The therapies have, overtime proved to very useful upon the release of offenders back into the community.

Framework for the prevention of addiction

Several strategies are used in the prevention of addiction. Some of these strategies include school programs, work programs, and the healthcare system. Youth being most vulnerable to unhealthy drug practices and spending most of their time in school, school-based prevention programs seem to be the most implementable framework for the government. Work program whereby employees are regularly tested for drug use has shown a significant decrease in drug usage cases.

Additionally, educational programs for employees can help supplement drug tests and hence reduce the chances of addiction. Lastly, legal and healthcare decisions can help prevent addiction. The collaboration between the government, doctors, and pharmacists who prescribe opioids drugs can help raise awareness on the opioid drug’s risks hence preventing misuse, which leads to addiction.

Policy proposal and recommendation

In consideration of the research described, a policy recommendation was formulated. The policy being put forth is the decriminalization of opioid drugs. Notably, decriminalization is not legalization. Decriminalizing of opioid prescriptions will allow dispensing of these drugs under medical supervision whereby individuals will get the necessary information on the use and effects of the drugs. A perfect example is Portugal, which decriminalized these drugs and saw drug-related HIV infections drop by 95%. In addition, it is essential to note that people with SUD are not criminals but rather are people who need help instead of being punished and stigmatized.

Conclusion

Addiction and substance use disorder have adverse effects at the individual, socio, and economic levels. The remedy to the opioid crisis ought to be long term to help curb this socio-economic scourge. As most prevention strategies have not been effective, the government should consider the decriminalizing of illicit drugs. The initiative can be supported by the idea that people on SUD require help and treatment rather than punishment and stigmatization. For this reason, decriminalizing these drugs might lead to positive results, as witnessed in Portugal.

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