Opioid Epidemic in The United States

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Now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, drug overdoses have become a serious issue across the nation, according to the official website of the White House. The use of drugs has become a staple in our society that many have become dependent upon, which in turn is ruining their lives. However, companies that produce opioids have taken advantage of the desires of those in need of painkillers through repeatedly lying to consumers about the use of their products, gleaning a large profit. There have been many valiant efforts to reduce the effects of these acts, such as state drug administrations and the Trump Administration. Additionally, the problems that lie within opioid companies can be seen crucially through the eyes of a judge. These perspectives on the opioid crisis provide an opportunity to peek into the struggles of others in trying to prevent further damage from the opioid crisis and the companies that are perpetuating it. A few perspectives one could take on this are economic, scientific, cultural and societal, and political: each lens a different way to observe the effects. Political influences can alter the effects that false intensification of opioids, which can be observed through several states’ efforts, the Trump Administration’s efforts to mitigate effects, and through the eyes of a judge.

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State Administration and Legislation

State drug administration and legislation are just one of many ways that one can observe the political influences on the effects of falsely incentivized opioids. Individual states also make efforts to mitigate the effects of the opioid crisis, many of which are similar to those that the Trump administration is implementing. These efforts include prescription limits, awareness education, access to treatment and services, civil litigation, and disciplinary action. According to Parker, Strunk, and Fiellin (2018), “Half the states have limited the number of opioid pills that can be written in an initial prescription. This movement follows publicized examples of large, unnecessary prescriptions (such as the 30-day supply of pills after wisdom teeth removal) and evidence of significant variation among prescribers”(p. 368-369). By limiting the number of pills available for prescriptions, those who are dependent upon them can start gaining resilience towards the constant addiction and start coming off of it. Aside from prescription limitations, states may likely implement drug awareness education to better inform youth about the dangers of abusing addictive substances. Also, every state may produce a different purpose the education. For example, “State-sponsored public education campaigns take a variety of forms, including community events, websites, and public service announcements on TV or online. The message varies as well. For instance, Montana’s program features stories of individuals who have been affected...Alabama’s campaign emphasizes the serious risk”(Parker, Strunk, and Fiellin, 2018, p. 370). Every state has its own method by which it attempts to mitigate the effects it, witnesses. Also, responses would vary based upon the variance and severity of the effects each state is experiencing. This introduces a perspective on a smaller scale: through the eyes of a judge.

Judicial Perspective

Included in the many ways to see the effects of falsely incentivizing the use of opioids is through the process of litigation, which a judge observes. Throughout the duration of the opioid crisis, there has been a multitude of lawsuits against companies that produce opioids for false claims about their products. Being a judge, in this case, would be rather difficult, and this is because it is morally wrong to lie to one’s consumers about the veracity and effectiveness of the products one produces. On the contrary, prohibiting such companies to perpetuate the production of these opioids would be denying countless people in dependency upon opioids the opportunity to have the drugs prescribed to them. Many factors contribute to the decision, such as political tendencies and dispositions. The notion of political tendencies and dispositions brings state drug administration and legislation into the picture. Furthermore, these notions introduce the political mitigation efforts put forth by both several states in the U.S. and also the Trump Administration. Judges have to be prepared to face the tactics and techniques that opioid defendants take to the court to make the justest decision possible: “The two organizations [AAAS and Dana Foundation] forged a partnership to give federal, state, and administrative law court judges an opportunity to learn from researchers how advances in neuroscience can inform courtroom decision-making”(Cohen, 2019, para. 5). The process of valid decision-making might make or break possible outcomes to a lawsuit or case. Valid decisions are especially necessary for a situation dealing with such a large part of current culture and issues. According to Nino C. Monea (2019), “Anyone selling an easy fix for pain would be able to reap an enormous windfall. Drug companies approached this task with gusto...liberalizing opioid prescriptions was, therefore, necessary for the industry”(para. 41). Companies, such as Big Pharma, have deemed it necessary to liberalize access to an addictive substance that has led to many casualties. Judges decide upon the laws set into place and maintained by every presidential administration, which directs the discussion towards how Trump’s Administration highlights the effects witnessed from the opioid epidemic.

The Trump Administration

An additional facet of political influence on the effects of opioid producers falsely incentivizing the use of opioids is through the Trump Administration. As a whole, the nation is “confronting the driving forces behind the opioid crisis”(“whitehouse.gov,” n.d.). The Trump Administration has been a key catalyst in the changes seen in the opioid crisis, although more still needs to be done. The amounts of prescriptions, addictions, and overdoses have increased significantly: “Over the past 15 years, communities across our Nation have been devastated by increasing prescription and illicit opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose...over 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids, nearly 1 million used heroin, and 2.1 million had an opioid use disorder”(Collins et al., 2017). The presidential administration alone can not solve every problem, which is where state administrations and legislation come in. It would be a tremendous help if states began to implement individual laws to hold control. However, laws must be well-planned and thought out thoroughly so that they attain certain purposes. For example, the Trump Administration set up a three-part system by which they would mitigate the epidemic effects: “Part 1 is reducing demand and over-prescription...Part 2 is cutting down on the supply of illicit drugs by cracking down on the international and domestic drug supply chains that devastate American communities”(“whitehouse.gov,” n.d.). The third is to provide help to those in need of it. There are many ways to execute Part three, which can include both medicinal and non-medicinal treatments. One example of a medicinal treatment might include naloxone, a drug that is known to ‘reverse’ the effects of opioids. This drug has become popular enough to where “pharmacists in all states except Nebraska can dispense naloxone without a prescription”(Parker, Strunk, and Fiellin, 2018, p. 372). Naloxone has proven to be an effective solution to the epidemic overall since it has been so freely accessible and useful to the general public. These are just a few instances introduced by the Trump Administration, which will continue to help improve the epidemic.

Conclusion

To conclude, a topic as serious as the opioid epidemic deserves a lot of attention towards finding reasonable solutions. As discussed, political influences can change the effects that false intensification of the use of opioids, which can be easily observed through state administration and legislation, judicial experience, and the Trump Administration. At the end of the day, the opioid crisis is still something the nation has to deal with, and hopefully, the previous information will help achieve a solution to end it.                         

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