What’s the Latest High?
Try to imagine the first time you ate your favorite candy. Then imagine having that same feeling every time you ate it. Now imagine eating so much of that candy that it kills you. That’s what the opioid crisis is like. And that’s what makes it arguably one of the largest stories in today’s news. Opioids are drugs produce a calming sensation and are commonly used for pain relief. Certain prescription medications and substances such as heroin are classified as such. The crisis refers to the surge of addictions to opioids as well as their overdose related deaths which are currently at a rate of about 91 people per day.
The emergence of overdose related deaths and addictions to opioids has ravaged the US and has proved to be an increasing problem throughout the nation. Given that the opioid crisis has been such a pressing issue in recent times, there continues to be new developments on it. The mainstream medias coverage of the epidemics political, social, and economical impacts brings a sense of urgency to the matter and also educates viewers on the kind of damage that is being dealt.
The opioid crisis has been developing political concerns in today’s news. Some of the main arguments about the epidemic was to whether or not declare it as a national emergency. On one side, the white house commission urges the declaration and focuses more on treatments for the victims of the epidemic. Their urge for this declaration is highly supported by doctors because over 300,000 overdose related deaths have occurred since 1999.
On the other side Donald Trump focused more on the use of heavier law enforcement to improve the situation. Soon after those comments, however, he ended up making a declaration of national emergency on the crisis. Having this declaration will allow the government to take greater action at addressing not only the legislative issues but the social issues that the opioid epidemic has brought about.
The social concerns of the crisis could be considered more or less the center of the epidemics conversation. This is because the epidemic affects everyday people. Some, however, are worried about the racial implications that could come along in this event as it did with the crack and heroin crises that have occurred in years prior. The biggest combatant in crack and heroin crises had been strong law enforcement. While this may seem like a good idea from an outside perspective, there was a critical flaw to this method. This flaw lied within the targeted demographics. Black and Latino minorities were made the primary targets of this punishment despite the majority of the epidemics demographic being white. The rise of this current epidemic generates fears of similar marginalization. Aside from these fears, there are real world impacts of the crisis on families. This impact comes in the form of contributing to teen and child suicide rates.
The rate has doubled among children since 2007.
This effect is seen predominantly in poor neighborhoods and is due to the opium users that are also parents. This results in either developing orphans because of overdose related deaths or it creates an unstable environment in the household. Both of these scenarios can take a serious emotional toll on both children and teenagers. Children already have to deal with navigating through a world they have not completely learned about. Having parents die or be incapacitated because of addiction takes away a very important support system in their development and therefore has the potential to result in suicidal tendencies.
Additionally, the effect opioids have had on adults have also influenced the economy.
The economic toll that the opioid crisis has made in the United States is quite severe. Taking into account the costs from healthcare and criminal justice alone puts up a number in the billions. $30.1 billion to be exact. One of the most prominent costs, however, comes from unemployment. As previously discussed, opioids put their users in a relaxed state. This doesn’t make them very suitable for a work environment.
So they don’t work.
The lack of productivity has resulted in significant dent in the economy since addicts are not working while more money is going into the care of addicts and this only continues to grow. Additionally, unemployment has generated more of a desperation for employers as they need workers in order to maintain their businesses. This desperation also generates a problem as potential addicts who are hired can present a safety risk in the workplace. This relates to places that may require using machinery that can cause bodily harm.
Their sober counterparts can also be affected if they have addicts in their care. This potentially takes time away from their jobs and overall reduces their maximum productivity. This just goes to show that whether opioid addicts are active in the workplace or not, they are damaging the economy.
The reason for all of these stories is to shed a light on just how important this epidemic is.
From the political side, the declaration of national emergency as well as frequent debate is very important for developing the legislation necessary to combat the opioid crisis growth. Having the crisis at the forefront of the government’s priorities brings significant attention and action to the matter. While backed by the government, health care would likely receive greater support and funding towards treating patients that are afflicted with opioid addiction.
The social concerns of the opioid crisis are just as important because they offer the greatest perspective of the crisis. This perspective come from the people that suffer from the crisis whether they are an addict themselves or know of people who are addicts. Since it is the everyday people that are affected, the social aspect is the primary voice of the crisis which influence all others.
The economic concerns are also important because it significantly impacts the economy of the country. If the crisis is not effectively handled, it would do a lot more damage in the destabilization of the economy which would have adverse effects on most if not all people living here.
All the stories come together to reveal the magnitude of the opioid crisis. At times, it can be easy to overlook this issue because of other issues like the nuclear threat of North Korea or the everyday activities of the President of the United States. But this growing epidemic demands our attention and it is very easy to understand that by just a handful of recent articles. As a domestic issue, it needs to be dealt with fast before it causes either permanent damage to the country or damage that will take a very long time to come back from.