The module on opioid crisis in the USA has enlightened me on the negative side effects of opioids in the community. It has proved that the medical fraternity has had a hand in the rise of drug and substance abuse and subsequently the rise of juvenile delinquent behavior. More importantly, I have discovered that the pharmaceutical industry is grossly responsible for the rising cases of prescription opioids addiction in the community. While introducing opioid pain relievers in the medical world, the Pharma reassured the prescribers that the drugs could not be addictive. This reassurance led to the widespread prescription of these drugs for treating different conditions. Contrary to the expected outcome, many patients developed dependence and eventually became addicted and ended up abusing heroin (National Institute of Health, 2018).
I am surprised to discover that 80 percent of drug addicts who abuse heroin used prescription opioids first. Further, it is shocking to note that about 25 percent of patients prescribed opioids misuse them. Additionally, around 10 percent of these patients develop an opioid disorder that is usually irreversible (National Institute of Health, 2018).. The fact that the all these shortcomings have a medical background is disturbing. The very doctors and prescribers who were supposed to safeguard the health of the patients are in the frontline on exacerbating the rise of drug addiction in the country.
Nurses are fundamentally responsible for administering opioids to the patients. They also interact with patients who are hospitalized for opioid overdose. Nurses occupy the widest space in the patient management scope. In the hospital setup, they receive the patients in the outpatient department, take their vital signs, and document the findings. In other words, they are best positioned in identifying a patient with opioid overdose. When a patient complains of too much pain in the hospital bed, the nurse is at the discretion of administering an opioid pain reliever. Nurses, therefore, establish a continuous line of contact with the patients both in their home and in the hospital.
Science and technology come in handy in the management of opioid overdose. First, it helps establish blood levels of opioid analgesics and allows the doctors to institute measures to treat the patients. Besides analytical machines that perform opioid measurement in blood, research and development are important in managing pain with opioid alternatives. Finding the most appropriate opioid overdose antidote will also go a long way in mitigating the crisis (Volkow and Collins, 2017). Additionally, developing a national database of opioid circulation will help to prevent illicit sale of these drugs in the black market.
This information is an eye-opener for all healthcare professionals engaged in opioid administration. Personally, I have become aware of the harmful effects of uncontrolled administration of drugs to the patient. On the one hand, I have learned that it is advisable to prescribe other analgesic alternatives if they can alleviate pain from the patient. On the other hand, I have become keener in identifying patients who present in the outpatient department with signs of opioid overdose. Lastly, I am awake to the fact that patient follow-up is key to controlling drug abuse for discharged patients. In other words, the hospital should give regular appointments to the patients who are discharged with opioid prescription to monitor their progress. In this manner, the doctor can decide whether changing the drugs is necessary or not depending on the progress of the patient.
National Institute of Health (2018, March). "Opioid Overdose Crisis." Nih.Gov. retrieved https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis on 21/6/2018
Volkow, N. D., & Collins, F. S. (2017). The Role of Science in Addressing the Opioid Crisis. New England Journal of Medicine, 377(4), 391-394.
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