Content contributor for The American Journal of Nursing
As a healthcare professional, effective communication is an essential skill for you to have. For this assignment, you will synthesize scientific research with relevant health policy, and write a professional editorial piece for public consumption.
Your role: Content contributor for The American Journal of Nursing Can be a nurse or NP
Audience: Healthcare professionals, nursing and administrative.
Format: 3-page paper, editorial style. Plus, a cover and reference page. A minimum of three scholarly sources should be included. In-text citations are required. APA style should be followed throughout.
Opioid Overdose Crisis
Currently, the U.S. is going through one of the most challenging public health crises in the past century related to opioid overdose. By 2019 the CDC reported that nearly 50,000 people died from opioid-involved overdose (Haffajee et al., 2019). The addiction and misuse of opioids, including heroin, prescription pain relievers, fentanyl, and synthetic opioids, is a significant issue of national interest that affects not only public health but also the economic and social welfare of the country. Estimates from the CDC have suggested that the total economic burden of opioid misuse across the U.S. is nearly $78.5 Billion opioids every year. These include healthcare-related costs, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and the involvement of the criminal justice system (Haffajee et al., 2019).
The opioid epidemic is a challenge that began in the late 1990s after pharmaceutical companies had reassured heath care provider’s patients would not be addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers. After receiving assurance from pharmaceutical companies, healthcare practitioners began prescribing opioid pain relievers at a greater rate to patients. The prescription of opioids to patients led to widespread misuse and diversion of the medication before it was clearly evident that opioid pain relievers were highly addictive in the past decade (Qeadan et al., 2021). Opioid overdose deaths have continued to increase, with at least 45,000 Americans dying every year as a result of opioid overdose. By 2019 more than two million people in the U.S. were affected by opioid use disorder. Scholarly studies have indicated that roughly 21 to 29% of patients that receive opioid pain relievers end up misusing them. On the other hand, at least eight 12% of individuals using opioids to control chronic pain develop opioid use disorder. According to the CDC, nearly 4 to 6% of individuals who misuse prescription opioids eventually abuse heroin (Qeadan et al., 2021). On the other hand, nearly 80% of individuals who abuse heroin are first addicted to prescription opioids. The abuse of opioid pain relievers has therefore become a significant public health issue because of the devastating consequences, which include significant rates of opioid misuse and overdose and increasing injection drug use that have cost increasing prevalence of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV (Qeadan et al., 2021).
One of the policy proposals that has been brought forward to address the issue of opioid addiction that has had significant health and social impacts across the U.S. is the expansion and use of MAT. The use of MAT has been highlighted as the gold standard for the treatment of opioid use disorder (Brown et al., 2021). Currently, only 24% of individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) obtained treatment for their condition within the past ten years. Research has also indicated that only around 23% of publicly funded treatment programs rely on medication-assisted treatment. Studies have also indicated that only around 34% of patients with OUD receive MAT treatment in facilities (Brown et al., 2021). Studies have therefore indicated that less than 10% of individuals with OUD receive medication-assisted treatment, which is quite a low number. The retention rate in MAT programs combined with other programs such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is at least 53%. Studies have also associated a higher retention rate in MAT programs with a lower likelihood of relapse among patients. All the available evidence indicates that MAT programs play a significant role in helping individuals with opioid use disorder manage their condition and even recover fully from their condition (Brown et al., 2021).
Need For Increased Awareness
The federal and state governments should be actively involved in the introduction and expansion of MAT programs across communities in the U.S. Such programs can therefore help to deal definitively with the problem of opioid use disorder. The federal government needs to allocate funds to support MAT programs across different regions, with state governments matching the federal government’s contribution towards such programs. The widespread availability of mat programs across communities in the U.S. can therefore play a significant role in encouraging enrollment in such programs.
Action by the federal government and state governments, which introduced medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, is needed immediately. This is because every year, an average of 50,000 people die because of opioid overdoses. The high death rates associated with opioid overdose have therefore made opioids one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and clearly highlighted the urgency of the implementation of effective programs to deal with the issue of opioid misuse (Brown et al., 2021).
Action by both federal and state governments to address the challenge associated with opioid misuse could therefore be introducing and increasing medication-assisted treatment programs in various rehabilitation facilities.
Effectively dealing with the challenge of opioid misuse can have a positive influence on the healthcare industry because of saving costs and saving lives. The widespread introduction of MATs for individuals with opioid use disorder would prevent severe health effects on such individuals and even premature death.
Brown, E., Schutze, M., Taylor, A., Jorgenson, D., McGuire, C., Brown, A., Middleton, A., Woodcock, C., LaPres, M., Cohn, L., Dowler, S., Sandoe, E., Rose, R., Applegate, M., Markman, K., Rizzuti, M., Truex-Powell, E., Ashmead, R., Mack, A., . . . Kennedy, S. (2021). Use of Medications for Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder Among U.S. Medicaid Enrollees in 11 States, 2014–2018. JAMA, 326(2), 154. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.7374
Haffajee, R. L., Lin, L. A., Bohnert, A. S. B., & Goldstick, J. E. (2019). Characteristics of U.S. Counties With High Opioid Overdose Mortality and Low Capacity to Deliver Medications for Opioid Use Disorder. JAMA Network Open, 2(6), e196373. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6373
Qeadan, F., Tingey, B., Bern, R., Porucznik, C. A., English, K., Saeed, A. I., & Madden, E. F. (2021). Opioid use disorder and health service utilization among COVID-19 patients in the U.S.: A nationwide cohort from the Cerner Real-World Data. EClinicalMedicine, 37, 100938. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100938