Substance abuse is a major problem in the United States. One of the most commonly abused substance is the opioids. The consequences related to the opioid epidemic are devastating as they result in the deaths of many people (Rudd, et al. 1323). In the state of Florida, the opioid epidemic presents serious challenges for the residents. This is because it is associated with high numbers of overdose deaths and addiction. Over the years, the state of Florida has reported an increasing number of deaths as a result of an opioid overdose. An opioid is a drug that is mostly prescribed for patients with chronic pain. However, it is commonly abused by patients and people without a prescription. The individuals with a prescription may share with others resulting in abuse (Srivastava and Gold 2). Furthermore, due to its uncontrolled availability, people acquire the synthetic opioids from unregistered pharmacies and drug dealers. This has increased the supply of the drug in the community and hence raising the risks of abuse. There are three ways through which opioid epidemic may be combatted in the state of Florida. Firstly, the state government should ensure that all the registered and practicing physicians are well educated and trained in effective and evidence-based chronic pain treatment. Also, Naloxone, a drug that has the ability to reverse opioid overdose, should be made accessible to the community. Lastly, a public awareness and education campaign to address drug abuse should be conducted.
The Opioid Epidemic in Florida
Abuse of opioids is one of the public health challenges affecting the state of Florida. The effects of this form of drug abuse are reported in deaths that result from the overdoses particularly among the youths and middle-aged adults. The number of overdose deaths reported in this state are alarming and highlight the need for immediate intervention. From the statistics of the According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the state recorded about 2798 opioid-related deaths in the year 2016. This was a rate of about 14.4 deaths in every 100,000 citizens. During this year, the average national death rate due to opioid abuse was approximately 13.3 per 100,000 individuals. This shows that opioid abuse in Florida was higher than the national average. The number of reported deaths has been increasing in recent years. According to NIH (2016), the number of deaths has increased by almost 200% from the year 2001. The effects of this trend are huge as they place a huge economic burden on the country. As indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States government bears approximately $78.5 billion each year as a result of prescription opioid abuse (Nelson, Juurlink, and Perrone1453). This cost includes healthcare and addiction treatment as well as loss of productivity. The economic burden as a result of the epidemic to a state such as Florida present serious challenges. The following recommendations can be used to combat the opioid epidemic in the state of Florida.
Enhancing Physician Education and Training
Opioids are prescribed for patients with chronic pain as they are strong pain relievers. Therefore, to control the abuse by the patients, there is a need for proper and controlled prescriptions. The physicians attending to the patients need to have the appropriate knowledge on the issue so that they can administer or prescribe the drugs accordingly. One way the advanced education and training would help in combating the opioid epidemic is by avoiding over prescriptions (Surratt et al. 315). As noted earlier, opioids such as oxycodone, methadone, morphine, and hydrocodone are prescribed by physicians as chronic pain medications. However, when the drugs are in the hands of the patients, they may be misused. This is mostly because of the cases of over-prescription. When a person has access to more than the required dosage, there is increased possibility of abuse or sharing the drugs with other people. Therefore, with enhanced education on the issue of opioids, doctors will have the ability to identify and prescribe the appropriate dosages and prevent the possibilities of misuse. Furthermore, additional training would equip the clinicians with tools that would enable them to make informed decisions regarding the opioid prescription. For these reasons, the state needs to conduct and implement training and educational programs that enhance the skills of the physicians regarding opioid prescriptions.
Naloxone Access in the Community
Naloxone is a corrective drug that can be used to reverse the adverse effects of opioid misuse. The deaths from opioids occur when an individual takes an overdose of the drugs. However, Naloxone can be administered and help the patient recover. As noted earlier, opioids overdose death rates in the state of Florida are on the rise. This implies that people who take an overdose of opioids do not get the necessary interventions that could help in preventing deaths. Therefore, I recommend that the Naloxone should be made easy to access by the members of the public. This will ensure that even in the cases of drug overdose, those people who respond to such emergencies can save lives by administering a dose of Naloxone. This drug does not require advanced skills to administer and which means that any person responding to an emergency such as family members, police officers, and firefighters can apply the medication (Nelson, Juurlink, and Perrone1454). The purchase of this drug should be allowed without prescription to ensure that any person can access it. Also, patients using opioids or those individuals with addiction can be encouraged to have this medication to effectively respond to overdoses.
Public Awareness and Education Campaigns
Public awareness campaigns are effective ways of educating the public about the dangers of opioid misuse. Through these campaigns, health professionals should teach the citizens of Florida State on the effects of drug abuse, how the addicts can recover, and how to prevent addiction. The campaign should target the youth as they are mostly affected by this epidemic as well as those patients with opioid prescriptions. The youth and middle-aged adults take the drugs for pleasure and hence they should be educated on the negative side effects of such behaviors (Srivastava and Gold 5). The should be educated on the dangers of abusing the prescribed drugs or sharing with other people. Such a campaign would make the citizens of the Florida aware of the dangers of opioid misuse and help in reducing drug abuse.
The above recommendations are some of the practical solutions that can help in alleviating the effects of opioid abuse in the state of Florida. These can be well implemented by the office of the governor, who is the chief authority figure in the state of Florida. Additionally, the governor oversees the state budget and formation of regulations that would help in implementing the above measures.
National Institute of Health. "Florida Opioid Summary." National Institute on Drug Abuse, Jul. 2016, https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by- state/florida-opioid-summary. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.
Nelson, Lewis S., David N. Juurlink, and Jeanmarie Perrone. "Addressing the opioid epidemic." Jama 314.14 (2015): 1453-1454. Print.
Rudd, Rose A., et al. "Increases in drug and opioid overdose deaths—United States, 2000– 2014." American Journal of Transplantation 16.4 (2016): 1323-1327. Print.
Surratt, Hilary L., et al. "Reductions in prescription opioid diversion following recent legislative interventions in Florida." Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety 23.3 (2014): 314-320. Print.
Srivastava, A. Benjamin, and Mark S. Gold. "Beyond Supply: How We Must Tackle the Opioid Epidemic." Mayo Clinic Proceedings 93.3 (2018). Print.