During The Previous Decade, The United States Has Witnessed A Significant Increase In Opioid Use And Subsequent Deaths. In 2014, The Five States With The Highest Rates Of Death Due To Drug Overdose Were West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky

Opioid Use

Opioid painkiller is a rapid growing addiction and a major problem in United States. The government has declared it an epidemic requiring lawmakers to get ways of ending its addiction. Opioid painkiller has resulted in over 14,000 deaths in 2014 due to its overdose. Common opioid medications prescribed to people include Vicodin, OxyContin, and Morphine. OxyContin painkiller treats chronic pains, physical injuries, cancer, and arthritis. Morphine is a strong painkiller treating severe pain in hospice setting among other hospitals (American Addiction Centers, 2017). Doctors introduce Vicodin to patients after an accident or surgery. Doctors prescribe Opioid drug to relieve pain. However, some people are addicted to the drug after its prescription leading to greater urge for the drug and ending up in overdose. This paper discusses symptoms of opioid overdose, strategies of preventing overdose, and strategies that positively affect population health outcomes in affected communities.

Symptoms of opiate overdose

They include confusion, acting drunk, mood swings, vomiting, nausea, and extreme constipation. The addicts have pinpointed pupils, get extreme sleep, and inability to wake up. They experience breathing problems such as irregular and stopped breathing; their skin becomes clammy and cold. The skin around the lips and fingernails turns bluish. Depressed breathing from insufficient oxygen leads to slower operation of the brain than normal since the drugs have attached to opiate receptors. The problem affects other organ systems such as kidneys and heart. Opioid overdose persons die when left alone and asleep. Their breathing gets depressed, ceases breathing causing the death of the person (American Addiction Centers, 2017).

Current Strategies preventing opioid overdose in the United States

A report published by the Trust for America’s health 2013 outlines two ways of preventing abuse and misuse of opioid and increasing access and support for services for substance abuse. Strategies include implementing and using PDMP initiatives, adoption of laws given by doctors when shopping for drugs and education laws from medical provider (American public health association, 2017). Implementing requirements of physical exam, increasing access and support services for substance abuse including adopting Good Samaritan laws supporting access to rescue drugs, among other programs reduce harm from Opioid drug. Counseling, treatments for opioid addiction using medicine reduce opioid overdose. Individual designed programs; detoxification and withdrawal practices supervised medically reduce abuse of opioid. Maintenance medications, psychosocial counseling, and treatment of disorders prevent opioid overdose. Vocational and rehabilitation services as well as case management services reduce misuse of opioid drug.

Strategies positively affecting population health outcomes in affected communities.

Substance abuse and mental health services Administration (2016) explains many strategies of affecting health outcomes of the population in affected communities. The first step is to encourage providers and high-risk families and persons to learn prevention methods and ways of managing opioid overdose. Providers should update their knowledge on evidence-based practices especially while using opioid analgesics in managing pain and directions for preventing and managing overdose of opioid drug. Second, accessing treatment toindividuals addicted and misusing opioids among other substances and ensuring ready access to naloxone improves health outcomes in affected communities. Naloxone is a drug that displaces opiates from their receptor sites such as the brain and end up reversing respiratory depression, which causes most deaths. Third strategy is encouraging the public to call 911 to receive immediate medical attention from persons with medical expertise. Fourth prescribers should be encouraged to use monitoring programs designed for prescription drugs to address misuse of opioids and prevent overdoses and deaths.

The National conference of state legislatures (2017) reports United States prescription drug monitoring programs (PMDPs) that prevent abuse of Opioid drug. PDMPs outlines strategies such as encouraging interstate exchange of PDMP data through development of interoperability standards with neighboring states. Lastly, the program encourages sharing of PDMP data among clinicians, law enforcement, researchers, Medicaid program integrity and licensure boards.


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