The epidemic of Opioids and Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids

The epidemic of Opioids and Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids 150 150 Affordable Capstone Projects Written from Scratch

The epidemic of Opioids and Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids

On a daily basis, prescription of drugs to patients occurs despite some of them being accompanied by deathly costs. The epidemic of opioids has been instigating around for many years leading to misuse of the prescribed drug and overdose. Opioids are made from opiates of the opium poppy plant. Mostly used as painkillers, opioids are usually in many forms such as fentanyl, codeine, morphine, as contents of illicit heroin and oxycodone. The epidemic of opioids was at its optimum in 2015 when the overdose of the drug was America’s primary cause of deaths in which out of the 50,000deaths, 23,000deaths were caused by opioids (Kim, Irwin, & Khoshnood, 2009, p. 403). The epidemic having always been silenced, it had been a very late reaction when the United States government had, at last, announced the epidemic of opioids as a national health emergency. This paper entails the history and details of the epidemic of opioids, how it can be controlled and the guidelines of how opioids can be prescribed.

The epidemic of opioids first began in the 1700’s with the British who used their global superiority to conquer and smuggle opium into China. The British used the opium for trading purposes especially in the buying and exporting of silk, tea, and other Chinese goods. With time, this mode this mode of trade became widespread thus laying roots for the misusing, abusing and using of opioids in the western world and this is how it gained access to the United States (Volkow, Frieden, Hyde, & Cha, 2015, p. 2064). Initially, as a method of treating pain, patients and doctors entered into the temptation of using, misusing and abusing opioids. Its addiction was mainly caused by the idea of using it in treating mental and physical discomforts. Generally, the epidemic of opioids has had a tremendous negative impact on the society and should be handled with immediate effect. It is unfortunate that the health generals and the high authority levels are not putting in much effort to ensure that the misuse and abuse of opioids are eliminated from the country.

The country has many actions that it can put in place to respond to the epidemic of opioids, looking for substitutes of the drug, raising the levels of controlling opioids and educating the members of the public about the crisis can help reduce the rising numbers of deaths caused by the epidemic today. While responding to the epidemic of opioids, the best solution can be obtained directly from the source. Starting an extensive education program about drug addiction can have a positive effect on the way of thinking in both citizens and doctors in the way they handle drug addiction instances. Since a large number of doctors lack training in addiction medicine, the knowledge about addiction is usually possessed by the psychiatrists. It is due to this that a large number of doctors improperly diagnose patients resulting in an incorrect prescription for opioids (Kim, Irwin, & Khoshnood, 2009, p. 406). With extensive education on drug misuse and addiction amongst the doctors, this information can be relayed to the patients and thus a reduction in the number of wrong opioid prescriptions.

The use of substitute drugs can also be effective when curbing the epidemic of opioids in the country. When substitute drugs such as marijuana will help reduce the effects of the epidemic of opioids since it is research proven that marijuana can treat pain in the situations where opioids have been offered as the prescription. Statistically, in comparison to the number of deaths caused by the overdose of opioids, the overdose of marijuana cannot cause death thus more efficient. Also, research has proven that overdosing marijuana is almost impossible.

In the recent days, due to the epidemic of opioids, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a guideline for the prescription of opioid medication. The voluntary guidelines ask healthcare providers involved in the treatment of chronic pain in adults to change and start using substitute painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone to reduce the length of treatment.  The guidelines also state that doctors should prescribe opioids only in a situation where the risks of the drug on the patient are less than the pain and function (Dowell, Haegerich, & Chou, 2016, p. 1640). Apart from the patients who have had surgery or are suffering from terminal illness, clinicians should begin by giving a trial to aspirin and ibuprofen in the treatment of pain and rarely use opioids for treatment of pains that last for less than seven days (Dowell, Haegerich, & Chou, 2016, p. 1625). The CDC in its guidelines stresses that doctors should always be cautious when engaging in the prescription of opioids and still offer the least possible dosage to avoid overdosing and opioid use disorder.

Generally, opioids will still be a global threat, but if both the public and the authority make efforts, the epidemic can yet be curbed. Educating the doctors and the public, using substitute drugs and all medical institutions following the guidelines set by the CDC are some of the essential steps that will help reduce the high number of deaths caused by opioids. If the epidemic is further analyzed and the whole nation made aware, the opioid crisis will be minimized within a short time.


Dowell, D., Haegerich, T. M., & Chou, R. (2016). CDC guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain- United states, 2016. Jama 315, 1624-1645.

Kim, D., Irwin, K. S., & Khoshnood, K. (2009). Expanded access to naloxone: options of critical response to the epidemic of opioid overdose mortality. American journal of public health, 402-407.

Volkow, N. D., Frieden, T. R., Hyde, P. S., & Cha, S. S. (2015). Medication-assisted therapies- tackling the opioid- overdose epidemic. New England Journal, 2063-2066.