Policy Brief – Substance Abuse
According to the report that was given by National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2015, 24.6 million Americans aged 12 and older in their teenager stage are involved in substance use either for medical or non-medical issues. A report given by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) in 2016 indicated that Mortality rates due to an overdose of prescribed drugs was five times higher with many more people treated in emergency rooms as a result of drug overdose across the nation. 75% of deaths that were caused by prescribed drugs involved painkillers. Overuse or even misuse of analgesics can cause respiratory depression and decreased breathing rate hence posing a threat to one’s life (Goodridge et al., 2017). Most of these prescribed painkillers were found out to be opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and methadone.
More significant population of individuals suffering from substance use are teenagers above 12 years who have been caught up with responsibilities; most of them work as they study (Wargo.,2014). They find themselves practicing poor living habits as they tend to work for long hours a day, almost all days in a week with minimal rest. As tension related stress builds up in their bodies, they develop physical problems such as headaches, stomach upsets, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and troubled sleep. The condition pushes them to use pain medications either self-prescribed bought over the counter or prescribed to them when they visit health facilities. Others use strong stimulants with analgesic effects like cocaine and heroin and later develop Substance Use Disorder.
Prescription of Pain medications to those with either acute or chronic pains especially those with Substance Use Disorder. Those with chronic pain are more likely to use higher levels of prescribed pain medications usually heroin therefore overdose. Some patients who use prescribed pain medications like morphine get addicted to them (Bonar et al., 2014). In others, their bodies develop tolerance to the drugs’ effect hence they are forced to increase the dosage.
Vital statistics available underestimate the extent of effects caused by drugs especially drug involvement in causing death. The underestimate is because the types of drugs that cause the death are not specified on the documents after an individual succumbs. Emergency department visits related to prescribed medications and Number of deaths that are caused by drug overdose especially pain relievers are unacceptably on the rise (Rudd et al., 2016). Purposeful efforts are highly needed to reduce this epidemic of more deaths occurring as a result of drug use.
To curb the issue of substance use in the nation, various stakeholders need to be involved. Stakeholders will include all parties who are responsible and others who are willing to chip in to solve the matter (Kaye et al., 2017). The state government has a significant role to play in making laws and reinforcing the already existing laws concerning restraining use of substances in the country. It will set aside funds to be used in the programs and projects and facilities developed to educate and treat those who are already suffering from substance use disorders.
Non- Governmental Organizations such as American Society of Tropical and Hygiene (ASTMH) and others ought to be invited to take part in sponsoring and facilitation of programs, projects, and researchers meant to better the state of substance use in the Country. Sector officials more specifically Department of Public Health should be in the front line giving guidelines on how to allocate the resources available appropriately to reduce substance use among the young people.
The community plays a critical role in coming up with the best measures to eradicate substance use among its people. Hence they have a part to play and should be given a chance to participate mainly in creating awareness and campaigning against substance use. They should be assisted to form groups and local organizations looking into the matter.
Public health as a sector has a vital role to play in coming up with interventions to curb substance use among the teenagers by trying to reach out to communities on substance abuse through creating awareness on social media and campaigning against the same. There is need to develop more facilities treating and rehabilitating those Victims already suffering from effects of substance use.
Another solution is to strike a balance between reducing drug misuse and overdose by safeguarding the legitimate access to treatment. Health care providers should be restrained by policies to take great caution when it comes to describing painkillers to their clients (Kaye et al., 2017). They should be keen to follow the prescribing guidelines to prevent giving their clients more dose than they are required to take. They supposed to screen their patients to identify any substance use disorders before issuing drugs with or without prescription.
Public health workers should advocate for the use of a prescription drug turn back program or prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to monitor prescription of drugs. It is a drug monitoring program which should be installed and implemented in all facilities involved in prescribing and issuing medication to people especially before long-term prescribing of the controlled substance. A monitoring program will ensure reduced drug overuse among individuals who go from one facility to another collecting drug and using them cumulatively not knowing the effect they cause in the system.
Formation of coalitions and groups throughout the state spearheaded by the public health sector in the country can help to raise public awareness about the problem especially in colleges and high schools educating them on the health risk the opioids post on their health.
Solving problem of Substance use will reduce the amount of funds the healthcare sector uses towards handling effects of substance use which rampant among the youth.
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Wargo, B. (2014). Prescription drug overdoses increasing. Southern Nevada Business of