Opioid addiction has become an increasingly serious issue in our country. The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 recognizes addiction as a health problem more than a legal problem. Both the Senate and President Trump’s appointed commission agree that we should focus on treatment rather than punishment.
One question we should all be asking is, “What is the root cause of our current crisis?” It has been found that pain plays a huge role. Understanding how pain and opioid addiction are connected is the first step to finding effective treatments.
Much of the Senate bill calls for “secondary prevention,” such as prescription monitoring programs, illegal drug seizure protocol, improving drug disposal systems and training healthcare professionals in proper prescribing practices.
Primary prevention is mentioned a few times in the bill, but it is not covered extensively. What it does mention is school and media programs that will inform children and parents about the dangers of opioid use. However, this plan only scratches the surface of what needs to be done.
These are all great steps, but what is arguably more important is addressing reasons people turn to opioids in the first place.
Why Start Taking Opioids?
Most people begin taking opioids because of mental or physical pain. Former abuse and improperly treated ailments are two common culprits. If your employers, family members and healthcare providers aren’t helping you with the pain you’re feeling, you might think that opioids are the only way to feel better.
Facing America’s pain epidemic is crucial to curbing the painkiller epidemic. The Senate bill addresses how the National Institutes of Health will make efforts to improve the scientific understanding of prevention, treatment and management of pain. This is a step in the right direction.
Opioid addiction has affected some communities more than others. It is a widespread problem, but data on the opioid epidemic indicates that the addiction especially impacts males in working class and low-income communities. It is also rapidly expanding to Hispanic communities.
Addressing low social capital, social isolation and weak community ties and economic issues could help solve the root cause of opioid addiction.
Helping people manage their pain without opioids could curb the addiction epidemic in our country. We have a long road ahead of us, but recent research and policies have put us on the right path.