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Nation Addicted

Declared a national crisis by President Trump, Governor Doug Ducey calls Arizona's opioid crisis a public health emergency.

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The Arizona Department of Health Services released its latest data on opioid overdoses in Arizona showing that it has reached the highest number of deaths in ten years due to opioid overdoses. They reported that more than 3,200 suspected opioid overdoses have been reported to state officials since June 15th.

According to the NY Times, of each American drug overdose, nearly two-thirds of them are from prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids, killing some 64,000 Americans last year which is over 20 percent more than in 2015. This statistic is more than double the number in 2005, and nearly quadruple the number in 2000, when accidental falls killed more Americans than opioid overdoses.

With the announcing of this problem, Governor Doug Ducey declared Arizona’s opioid crisis as a public-health emergency in June. This opens the question to what exactly has started the problem and how to fix it.

To start off the epidemic, more fingers are being blamed at doctors and highly paid pharmaceutical producers. On October 26, 2017, John Kapoor, the founder of opioid pharmaceutical producer Insys Therapeutics and the sixth richest man in Arizona, was arrested due to illegal distribution of fentanyl spray and violating anti-kickback laws.

Allegedly, Kapoor was bribing doctors into over-prescribing painkillers intended for cancer patients. But, these patients being prescribed these drugs did not have any trace of cancer.

Julian

As one solution, President Donald Trump has directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare an opioid crisis as a public health emergency. Trump vowed to get rid of drug abuse and addiction that has diseased the United States.

Yet, Trump has not prompted any federal funding to this issue yet and has not suggested any plans for supporting any sort of medical treatment. Although, he does plan to include a requirement that federally employed prescribers are trained in safe practices for opioid prescriptions, and a new federal initiative to develop non addictive painkillers.

I️ believe that Arizona is being affected by the opioid epidemic because of ignorance and/or mental diseases. People aren’t taking the time to care about how the illicit substance they are consuming is affecting their body. All they care about is getting high sometimes without regard to what pill they are even taking,” said Matthew Blackert, a senior. “People need to become aware and educated as to how these drugs are going to affect their body and if they are prepared to allow their drug use to take their life away from them.”

Consequently, the University of Michigan has devised a plan to help the nation’s opioid epidemic. They have decided to start cutting down opioid prescriptions by prescribing half of what they would usually prescribe. Many other hospitals have decided to follow in their footsteps. According to National Public Radio, despite getting less medication, patients didn’t report higher levels of pain, and they were no more likely than the previously studied patients to ask for prescription refills. Additionally, these patients asked for fewer pills.

Many celebrities in the past years have been affected by opioids. For example, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, Prince Rogers Nelson, Cory Monteith, Chris Farley, Janis Joplin, and the most recent being a rapper named Gustav Åhr, or more commonly known as Lil Peep each were victims to an opioid overdose. Ironically, Åhr’s death took place in Tucson, Arizona being that Arizona continues to face a serious drug problem, seeing as many as one hundred opioid-related deaths per month.

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