Opioid crisis is painfully real

Aldo Etzig, freelance reporter

A great entertainer overdosed in 2014. He was found dead, a needle hanging from his arm. Dozens of empty drug baggies were found strewn around Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment.

The opioid crisis is harming America.

Opioids have caused the US to be an outlier. With all the recent news on opioid overuse in the U.S., it’s not surprising that Americans consume the vast majority of the global opioid supply. Daily opioid use in the U.S. is the highest in the world, with an estimated one daily dose prescribed for every 20 people.

That rate is 50 percent higher than in Germany and 40 times higher than in Japan. As former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy once said, the U.S. “arrived here on a path that was paved with good intentions,” but “the results have been devastating.”

“We have nearly 250 million prescriptions for opioids written every year. That’s enough for every person in America to have a bottle of pills and then some,” he added.

Opioids are used in the US more than other parts of the world. Chinese medicine has long incorporated the use of herbs, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes to manage pain. Acupuncture has been adopted in many clinical settings around the world, including in the U.S., and is considered effective for certain pain conditions and safe when performed by an experienced practitioner.

In Europe, there are positive attitudes among both the medical profession and the public alike about complementary and alternative medicine – or the use of natural products or mind and body practices developed outside of mainstream Western medicine. These approaches are increasingly integrated into primary care, with reimbursement through national health care systems.

Opioids are having financial effects on employees. Financial losses are only part of the negative implications of fraud and abuse. The clinical dangers are just as alarming.

They include adverse drug reactions and drug therapy complications, cumulative side effects (such as sedation that impairs the patient’s functional status and hampers the likelihood of return to work), and inappropriate dosing, which can lead to serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Another indication of the existence of misuse is the higher volumes of narcotic medications used in certain jurisdictions.

Workers in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York received significantly more narcotics per claim than in other states—up to 125% more—according to a report from the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

That the maintenance solution is the right solution and could solve the crisis. In other words, had Hoffman been on heroin or opiate maintenance (if we had such a thing in the United States), it would have been clean, pharmaceutical grade—not cut by unknown drugs—the dose he took would have been known. It might not have killed him, and he would’ve had medical support throughout the process, so in case of an emergency, he might have been saved. Yes, though the heroin would be clean what would be done about the other health issues caused by opioids?

The opioid crisis is harming America. Compared to the rest of the world the US uses the most opioids. The US is using opioids first instead of other methods compared to the rest of the world. Employees on workers’ comp are being financially affected by opioids. A way to solve the crisis is to adopt other countries’ methods to deal with pain and use opioids as a last step in relieving pain.