Opioid Abuse Over The Past Decade Essay

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The Problem
In the United States, there has been upward swing of opioid abuse over the past decade. Overdose deaths involving opioids – both prescription pain relievers and heroin – almost quadrupled between 1999 and 2014. Well-intentioned efforts to curb prescription opioid abuse have yielded new policies with unfortunate, unforeseen consequences for the 15% of the US population that suffer from chronic pain – nearly 45 million people.
Persistent pain has psychological and social implications for daily life. It can severely limit an individual’s ability to work and be a productive member of society and decreases quality of life. In the face of increasing stigma and barriers to care, patients are struggling to procure the legal medications that alleviate their debilitating pain.
In 2012, enough opioid prescriptions were written to cover every adult in America at least once , but that trend has already begun to be reversed. Last year, 17 million fewer opioid pain relievers were prescribed than in the year before. The concern is that the new guidelines and policies are blunt instruments that are denying patients who appropriately use their prescription opioids access to medications, rather then blocking access for the recreational, illicit user of opioids. There are reports of physicians who are wary about writing prescriptions for opioid pain relievers, those who blindly follow guidelines without considering the nuances of an individuals’ needs, and those who have
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