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Opioid Crisis

Whitney Bixby, Staffer

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In October, President Donald Trump declared the Opioid Crisis a public health emergency. Every day, opioids kill 90 people, the same number of people as car crashes; this is the deadliest drug crisis in American history.

Opioids are painkillers that can be prescribed, although some are illegal, like heroin. They slow down both breathing and heart rate.

When it is hurt, the body creates natural opioids to dull the pain. When people abuse opioids, the body stops producing the natural opioids and becomes dependent on the drug. The more opioids that are consumed, the higher the dosage needed to achieve satisfaction. Opioids dull pain, but also boost dopamine and give some people a high, which makes it harder to quit taking opioids. Sometimes, people are prescribed to an opioid, get hooked and switch to heroin.

This crisis started in 1990 and has gotten worse over the decade because of overprescription, increase of cheap heroin and a recent growth of Fentanyl, a drug that is 100 times more addictive than morphine. Overdose of Fentanyl has increased by 80 percent, and one fourth of a milligram of Fentanyl can be lethal. Dealers will sometimes add Fentanyl to heroin to give it more of a kick.

This crisis has expanded across the country, and overdoses of opioids are most present in Appalachia and the Southwest, and opioids were responsible for more than 61 percent of deaths from overdoses in 2014.

In 2012, there were 259 million prescriptions for opioids, nearly enough for every adult and child to have their own bottle of pills. Opioids are usually prescribed to people who have acute pain, usually cancer patients. They have improved the quality of life for millions of people who experience intense pain daily. If Opioids were to stop being prescribed, people would most likely use more dangerous opioids, like heroin or counterfeit pills purchased illegally over the black market.

In order to fight the opioid crisis, President Trump said that the government would produce “really tough, really big, really great advertising” against drugs, so that people would not use them in the first place. President Trump’s new plan includes that federally employed prescribers would be trained to prescribe opioids safely, a new plan to develop non addictive painkillers and to strengthen the efforts used to block importing of Fentanyl, which is manufactured in China.

“We are going to overcome addiction in America,” President Trump said.


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Opioid Crisis