America’s Opioid Crisis

Julia Kim

In America, opioid abuse has been a problem for decades, but in recent years it has turned into a national crisis. Opioids are narcotics and are often found in painkillers prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain. However, because of the extremely addictive properties of these prescriptions, many patients, without meaning to, become dependent on them and open up the door to abuse.

Some examples of highly addictive opioids are Vicodin, Morphine, Percocet, and OxyContin. While these medications may be useful for acute, short term pain relief, the longer a patient uses them, the greater the chance of dependence and addiction.

For some individuals, when they run out of their prescriptions and are unable to obtain more pills legally or illegally, they resort to heroin, known for its recreational use and for being a cheaper solution to prescription opioids.

Lawmakers estimate that to end the crisis, it would cost roughly 45 billion dollars. The opioid crisis affects not just the individuals suffering, but government spending as well.  With more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions dispensed daily, the government has spent 55 billion dollars on opioid abuse treatments.

The government hopes to “cure” the crisis soon, but believes that it will take time considering the amount of abusers and the amount of prescriptions still be written on a daily basis.