Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic

Personally, I felt like this lecture opened my eyes to the process of how the opioid epidemic began.  I was surprised to see how some of these drugs began as simple pain medications and how WWI sparked morphine addiction in the United States.  Looking at it in hindsight, it is very clear that one thing led to another and it seems crazy how out of hand it has gotten since these drugs (opium, morphine, heroin) were first used as medicine.  I was also very surprised at the idea that hospitals and doctors began using pain as a vital sign.  Again, it is easy for me to judge in hindsight, but pain is different for everybody so I am baffled that they could create a standard based on something that varies for each person.  And it proved to be one of the main reasons why the opioid epidemic has gotten to the point that it is at right now.  What is something that surprised you from this lecture and how has that affected the growing issue of opioid addiction?

SEM stands for The social- ecological model is something that can be used to categorize certain topics of discussion and how each of these models has either helped or hurt the issue at hand.  The social-ecological model consists of 5 different levels. These levels include:

  1. Intrapersonal factors
  2. Interpersonal factors
  3. Organizational factors
  4. Community factors
  5. Public policy

Of these different levels, all of them can be intervened with to try to mitigate the problem of opioid use, but three in particular that would be most effective are public policy, community factors, and organizational factors.  It is necessary to regulate these drugs by federal laws, which makes it more difficult to obtain these drugs in the first place.  However, people who are addicted already are still going to find a way to obtain these drugs so community factors become important because it allows for change on a smaller scale.  Usually people who are effected by opioids aren’t all spread out within an area, they are within a certain community so people within the community that is effected needs some organization to help them.  And lastly is just that-organization.  Without some standards and outlines to guide people, it will be very difficult for people to get the help they need.  What are some ways these different levels of the SEM can help create positive change for this nationwide issue?  Do you believe this is something that needs immediate attention or is it not a priority right now for the United States?


10 thoughts on “Opioid Epidemic

  1. There are lots of issues ongoing in today’s world, and I was surprised when we learned the roots of opioid drugs as well. It was interesting to see that many drugs that doctors are so cautious about used to be given out with such ease. However, opioid serves as a crucial problem in today’s world, however the United States indeed has more pressing issues.

  2. I was also surprised by the way that they used pain as a vital sign. Pain is perceived differently by each person within their own means and to use it as a common vital sign seems a little farfetched. It is also unfortunate that this appears to be one of the reasons that the opioid epidemic has gotten as out of hand as it has.

    I think the the guest speaker should have focused more on the faults of the opioid producers in creating this issue. Their incentives for profit and targeting people in chronic pain with advertisements has a very big influence in paving the path for the opioid epidemic. I think it should have been addressed more by the guest speaker.

  3. Although pain is one of the biggest factors when it comes to whether or not medical staff should apply opioids, I feel that it is fine to consider the level of pain someone is feeling. Pain is relative to everyone and the pain that one person may feel may not be as heavily inflicting on another person because of pain tolerance or other factors.
    As for whether or not the United States should pay more attention to the opioid epidemic, I believe that they should not. There is not really much that they could do to keep people from taking more painkillers other than to reduce the amount that they give patients. Even then, there are people who are in pain for a much longer period of time than others and that should be considered when prescribing medicine.

  4. The opioid epidemic is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. Are there more pressing issues? Of course there are, but we can multitask issues as a country. Especially because this is a problem mostly caused by our own medical professionals.

  5. I was also shocked to learn that pain was used as a vital sign while treating patients. I understand using the pain scale to assess patients, but I did not and do not think pain should be as important on a scale as other vitals. I was also shocked at how big the opioid epidemic is. We often hear about other drugs such as heroine, but we hear less about opioids. I believe this may be because opioids are so widely used in hospitals many people do not consider the effects in the long run.

    I agree that public policy is a big issue when it comes to dealing with the epidemic. In the YouTube video that we watched, they talked about how the FDA approved a new opioid painkiller despite being objected by medical advisors. This poses a major problem because as a “corporation”, the FDA is not likely to be more knowledgeable than doctors and medical professionals about the risks and consequences of releasing a new, stronger painkiller while they are trying to deal with an epidemic already plaguing the country.

  6. Although I wasn’t able to attend this lecture, I happen to have a lot of experience with opioids. Not personally, but my sister’s boyfriend and the father of my niece and nephew had an addiction and I witnessed the effects it had first hand.

    We lived in the Toledo area, which meant it was not all that difficult for him to find access to these drugs. We could try to cut these people off from the painkillers but as long as they’re available via prescription, there is no way to guarantee they won’t fall into the wrong hands.

    1. (I accidentally clicked enter too many times)
      I do believe this is an issue that requires immediate attention. The man I mentioned before happened to acquire HIV from the needles he used for heroin, and also liver failure. Seeing how the opioids affected not only his life but all those surrounding him, I do not think this is something our country can put on the back burner anymore. I’m unsure as to how they can go about fixing it as any drug issue is a difficult one to solve, but I hope a solution is found.

  7. Yes, I believe that this opioid epidemic should be of high priority because as time progresses opioid addiction may increase to a point that will be harder to fix. If we want to stop this problem today, I think that it is important that an organization reach out to the communities affected by opioid addiction and make sure that the people know of places where they can get treatment for their addiction. To my knowledge, Obama care requires that health insurance plans provide mental health and substance abuse coverage to the insurance recipient. I think that educating people on the resources provided by health care would be a great way to help people get the opioid addiction treatment they may need. However, those without healthcare would probably have a harder time reviving the help with their addiction, so another approach to helping these people would have be considered. The opioid epidemic is a problem that has been around for a while now, and I believe that it is time we start combating the issue by helping the people who want the help before this problem gets any bigger.

  8. I found it interesting that increased number of pain killer prescriptions couples increased reported pain rates. This doesn’t necessarily imply causation, but there obviously is some sort of correlation between opioid intake and pain tolerance. Would it be that people have evolved to be less tolerant to the sensation of pain due to them being prescribed pain medications even if the pain they experience may be perfectly bearable. Have people become weaker both in will and in the physique because they are so used to having their pain abated as soon as they feel it? This might be precipitous paths we are heading down to. It is also alarming that the victims of the opioid epidemic were not given medical attention until the problem shifted from being disproportionally black to a white, suburban concern. Again, health disparities and biases come into play here. It is important that policy makers such as the Joint Commission claims responsibility for its past oversights and enforce policies that make opioids harder to be prescribed and obtained. Additionally, people need to be made more aware of the adverse events associated with any medication, not just opioids.

  9. I think for our nation to get past this epidemic, we must all work together. To use the different levels of the SEM we can:
    Intrapersonal factors- Making sure people are aware of the affect they have on the world around them can help them realize that abusing opioids not only affects their health and wellness, but all of those around them.
    Interpersonal factors- If people have good support systems, they can have people to support them through getting off of the opioids or people to inspire them to become clean.
    Organizational factors- If people belong to groups or organizations that have history of drug use or involvement, they may be more likely to develop an opioid addiction. Maybe we should work to dissolve these negative groups and help those involved see that drugs are not good.
    Community factors- Certain communities are known for high drug usage, for example my city Saginaw. Those against drug usage should get together and try to promote healthier lifestyles for the others in our community, and raise awareness about the epidemic hopefully steering many away from the drugs.
    Public policy- “Public Policy” is the unwritten laws that are usually what social laws are based upon. It is a well known fact that drugs are not good for you, but some people may have become addicted after having the opioids legally prescribed to them. Maybe closer monitoring of the drugs as they are given, or perhaps trying to find other means to alleviate pain could help lower the amount these drugs are abused.

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