Opioid and heroin overdose is the worst health threatening factor in Pennsylvania. Approximately nine hundred people die weekly because of drugs overdose (Felter, 2019). The drug crisis does not only affect the population health, but it also drags the country's economy posing a threat to national security. Analyses explain that the root cause of the drug crisis started with a prescription of right pain reliever medicines, such as oxycodone, that has recently translated to the influx of cheap opioids and heroin. Foreign drug cartels are the ones who mostly supply by into the country (Felter, 2019). Pennsylvania is the second highest rate of a drug overdose after Ohio in the United States. Heroin was the most commonly reported drug abused in Pennsylvania. In 2017, NFLIS data indicated that ninety-seven percent of the population had abused heroin (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). The government and other forces have put up efforts to end the calamity using different policies.
Opioid overdose has more consequences other than affecting human health. Most of the drug users are likely to suffer from hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases because of sharing syringes. On the other hand, reproductive mothers might transmit drug dependency disorder to their children if they use while expectant (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). The drug epidemic as well as results in reduced workforce participation, and these results in a sluggish economy. Many drug users decline jobs and become unemployed.
There has been a marked upturn in the opioid and heroin overdoses from 2002 to 2016 with increased death rates. The most abused drugs for decades has been heroin (Felter, 2019). The drug has gained popularity for the last several years, and its price as well as reduced since 19 centuries. However, in the previous few years, people turned to synthetic opioids (Felter, 2019). Some federal law state labeled the opiates as "manufactured death" as it is cheaper and more harmful to health than heroin.
The government initiated a lot of policies and regulation to cut off the overdose of the drugs. Following the drug overdose tragedy, many state initiative also proposed several actions that would be used to address the prescription of opioids (Penm et al., 2016). Some of the proposed activities involved; expanding access to treatment of opioid disorders and encouraging physicians and other healthcare workers to limit the prescription of opiates. Penm and his colleagues further suggest that the best action to the epidemic is to improve the healthcare system and regulate the order of the opioids drugs.
Pennsylvania government has put in place several strategies and policies to help end the drug overdoses based on two different classifications. The first category consists of strategies that address the supply of drugs (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). Controlling prescription of drug collection is one of the plans. The policy states that all leftovers drugs should be collected and taken back to the primary source of supply to reduce prescription of unused, expired, and unwanted medications. The DEA has stationed drop-off containers at every local police station, government and other public buildings for the collection of the leftovers.
The Pennsylvania government has developed an overdose information network for capturing overdose, prescription of naloxone, and information about drug under investigation. The system as well as analyses the data it collects on the variables (Penm, 2017). The network information system assists the criminal justice and public health bodies to anticipate and react as fast as possible to the increase in overdose. ODIN is essential in developing policy and making decisions (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). Additionally, conducting a comprehensive heroin response strategy is another critical approach for approaching supply. The high-intensity drug trafficking organization partners with the CDC to ensure the procedure is effective (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). The main aim of this policy is to reduce the rates of fatal and non-fatal overdose through the provision of supportive collaboration efforts from the HIDTAs in the twenty-two states.
Additional strategy addressing the supply is the provision of physician education on the use of the opioids. Medical organizations and other agencies revised and developed the drug prescription guidelines related to opioids (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). The newly developed guidelines provide the health professionals and the public an outline of better opioid prescription practices to avoid overdosing (Penm et al., 2017). The federal agencies and the states have instilled continuous medical training for health professionals to get a better understanding of the opioids and heroin. Taking diversion actions and prosecuting health professionals who do not comply with laws and regulations is another strategy (Felter, 2019). The policy has been effective in Pennsylvania as those health workers who were supplying opioids were eventually prosecuted after being found guilty for other criminal cases of fraud.
The government of Pennsylvania also uses the patient non-opioid directive measures. The approach enables patients to boldly and officially communicate that they are not willing to receive any opioid drugs for their treatment (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). This directive strategy will allow physicians to easily discuss with the patients on the opioid drug use and history and come up with alternative therapies. The measure acts as well as a control tool for preventing the inadvertently regulating substances to the adversely affected leaders. Warm handoff is another effective policy in curtailing the opioid tragedy (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). The approach involves a health worker identifying the drug addicts and making a referral to the drug abuse specialist for further treatment.
The government and federal agencies of Pennsylvania also had policies of addressing the demand of opioid and heroin. The government set up poison centers with additional resources. Poison centers are made available to all individuals for making calls at any time at no cost (Lynch & korenoski, 2017). The center provides education about drug misuse to students, community organizations, medical practitioners and other public personnel's. The centers are sufficient for evaluation, treatment, and referral of patients suffering from substance abuse. The department of human service excellence has developed a supportive network across forty-five facilities (Lynch & korenoski, 2017). The approach emphasizes on a team-based strategy of recovery. The network system ensures the patients have access to integrated and coordinated care that supports them physically and socially during recovery periods.
In January 2018, the governor Wolf declared a nationwide disaster emergency about opioid and heroin tragedy. The state of emergency can develop and waive laws that ensure the epidemic and specific barriers to national success are removed within ninety days faster and efficiently (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). The governor declaration addressed thirteen specific agencies across three main areas. The first one involves improving coordination and collection of data to the state and local feedback. The second consists in enhancing tools for families, quick responders, and other individuals to save lives while the last area involved accelerating and expanding access to treatment facilities.
Approximately thousands of people in Pennsylvania are still currently suffering from severe drug disorders. Another approach developed was early identification and intervention to prevent adverse drug health effects (DEA Philadelphia, 2018). For the strategy to work effectively, the healthcare practitioners initiate MAT treatment as it increases the likelihood that a patient will accept and continue with treatment.
Policies and laws are not effective in addressing the tragedy of opioid overdose in Pennsylvania. The epidemic is so complex and requires a high-intensity approach. Medical professionals should have a strong commitment and be at the forefront in adopting and complying to the prevention of substance abuse practices. The government should consider impacting change to the nation through community involvement. The government should also work closely with health practitioners to expand awareness and resource recovery.
DEA Philadelphia division (2018). The Opioid Threat in Pennsylvania. The joint intelligence report. The University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved from HYPERLINK "https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/201810/PA%20Opioid%20Report%20Final%20FINAL.pdf" https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/201810/PA%20Opioid%20Report%20Final%20FINAL.pdf
Felter c., (2019). The U.S. Opioid epidemic. Retrieved from HYPERLINK "https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-opioid-epidemic" https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-opioid-epidemic
Lynch MJ, Korenoski A. (2017) Substance Use Treatment and Referral: Novel Use of Poison Center Services. Poster Presentation. North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology. Journal of Clin Toxicol, 55(7): 689-868.
Penm, J., MacKinnon, N. J., Boone, J. M., Ciaccia, A., McNamee, C., & Winstanley, E. L. (2017). Strategies and policies to address the opioid epidemic: a case study of Ohio. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 57(2), S148-S153.
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