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Opioid Addiction in Teenagers and Young Adults: D.A.R.E Program

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Opioid addiction in teenagers and young adults is a serious issue that has been happening for years now and is still happening today. This opioid addiction epidemic has caused many deaths of teenagers and young adults. However, although this problem is very apparent in the United States, there is not enough that is being done in order to stop or lower the rising number of opioid addictions in young adults and teenagers. If there is not a solution to this epidemic more and more young adults and teenagers will die due to overdose of the opioids. It is important to solve this issue but not enough is being done about it. People are not taking the issue seriously enough to look for solutions. I believe there should be more done about this and therefore, I will talk about solutions to lower the rising percentage of opioid addiction in teenagers and young adults.

After doing research, I came to realize how often opioid overdoses occur in young teens and how no one is doing anything about it. People speak their stories and experiences, but never talk about how to overcome it or how to put a stop to this horrible epidemic. In the article The Opioid Crisis by Carl Stoffers, a mother of an eighteen year old boy lost her son due to an overdose of an extremely strong opioid called fentanyl. Stoffers continues by saying, “more Americans have died from opioids over the last year than died in [the wars in] Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined” (Stoffers 2). Clearly, this article is only stating facts and having people tell personal stories, but is not explaining an effective way to stop this recurring crisis. However, one article I came across called US Department of Defense… talks about how there are “physician developed, child resistant locking prescription vials that are both tamper-evident and pilfer-resistance” (Us Department of Defense…). Although this is not such an effective solution for ending addiction because it mainly aims at younger children, this article is a great example of how solutions are possible in order to decrease the number of deaths of opioid overdose in the next year. Not only do teenagers encounter opioid addiction but children as young as “12 and 13-years-old” are the age group to “most commonly abuse… [prescription drugs]… with pilfering from family medicine cabinets” (Us Department of Defense…). Therefore, this article further explains how this epidemic is becoming such a big problem and that the parents of young kids would never even imagine their kids getting into drugs. Furthermore, the article The Opioid Crisis, demonstrates a graph of how the deaths due to opioid overdose of people ages twenty-four and younger is increasing throughout the years. In just fifteen years from 2000 to 2015, the death rate went up by three thousand people. This graph alone proves that there has not yet been an effective way to put an end to this epidemic because death rates continue to increase.

Opioid addiction did not appear out of nowhere, there is always a start to everything. Pharmaceutical companies are the ones to blame because, according to an article titled Opioid Overdose Crisis, “[pharmaceutical companies] reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain reliever,” and so doctors began to prescribe the pills more and more (Opioid Overdose Crisis). However, there are certain types of opioids that people get addicted to more than any other opioids. OxyContin is one of the most leading causes of addiction and it began that way because “OxyContin sales representatives visited doctors across the United States, leaving them with gifts, free patient samples, and invitations to all-expenses-paid symposia—all actions that are known to impact prescribing” (Lyapustina and Alexander). Furthermore, the country with the largest number of opioid addicts is the United States. The United States is the biggest culprit for opioid drugs with “the United States consumed 99% of the world’s hydrocodone, 60% of the worlds hydromorphone, and 81% of the world’s oxycodone” (Lyapustina and Alexander). Clearly, it is evident that there needs to be something done about this recurring epidemic. Opioid addiction needs to be solved and the only way to do so is to find solutions to stop the rising addiction.

To begin with, we need to crack down on why doctors are prescribing people an excess number of opioids and find solutions to the prescriptions. Doctors continue to prescribe patients with too many opioid pills even after the fact that in the United States, the number of prescriptions written for opioids increased by 300% between 1991 and 2009” (Lyapustina and Alexander). A way to put an end to the over prescription of opioid pills, instead of doctors feeding patients their addiction, they should cut down on the amount of pill they prescribe to them with no available refills so that their patients do not get addicted. It would also be helpful to come up with “new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid use disorders” and to come up with “safe, effective, non-addictive strategies to manage chronic pain” (Opioid Overdose Crisis). Additionally, there needs to be a better education system on the topic of opioid pills and addiction. School children are only being taught about drugs through a United States D.A.R.E program in their middle schools when in reality it would be more effective to educate high school students on the topic of opioid pills and provide them with real life emotional examples of what can happen to them if they abuse them. Programs like D.A.R.E are only educating children on different types of drugs and the effects of it. Also, middle school children are at an age where they want to do the opposite of what they are told; by telling them “never to take drugs” it is making them want to try them even more. Programs like D.A.R.E prove not to be effective by an article on ERIC by Mary Nakashian stating “by 11th grade, significantly more students who participated…reported alcohol or cigarette use in the prior 30 days than did a control group of students who did not participate” (Nakashian). Finally, another way to end this epidemic is that more rehabilitation centers need to be put into play. Although there are rehabilitation centers to help out the people of addiction there is not enough in the United States. The more rehabilitation centers around, the more addicts will attend. Most people who have an addiction want to get rid of their addictions but cannot do it alone and do not have enough resources or money to help them. “Congress must mandate that, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies pay for opiate and opioid addicts’ rehabilitation and that rehabilitation facilities accept insurance coverage” (Alanna Guy).

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Although there is a clear problem with opioids, some people do not believe they should not lower the prescription of opioids. Opioids are given such a bad image but people like Tess E. Cooper are trying to prove that there are safe ways to use opioids without getting dependent on them by stating that “opioids are used in varying doses (generally based on body weight for pediatric patients) by means of parental, transmucosal, transdermal, or oral administration (immediate release or modified release)” (Cooper). Other people like Christina Jensen-Daham says that opioids are beneficial for older patients and used in nursing homes because “pain is associated with lower quality of life and impairment of memory [needs to be] treated efficiently” (Daham 1). She is trying to prove that opioids have a beneficial side to them and should not always be viewed as a fatal drug.

In the article Busted by Julia Lurie, charts and research are demonstrated that show the different kind of drugs that people were addicted to in past years to now. The drugs, as the years go on, are getting more fatal and the death rates are increasing tremendously. The chart indicates that one of the most fatal drugs, Fentanyl is the most used by young adults and in 2016 alone, there were 20,000 overdoses just from this specific drug. This article also states that in 2017, Donald Trump was trying to take away Obamacare which would “take away addiction treatment coverage for an estimated 3 million Americans” (Lurie 4). Not only is this article stating facts about how this is a problem, it is also showing how people, like Donald Trump, are making matters worse. Once again, solutions are not being bought up to try and fix this recurring epidemic of opioid addiction.

Although there is a clear problem with opioids, some people do not believe they should not lower the prescription of opioids. Opioids are given such a bad image but people like Tess E. Cooper are trying to prove that there are safe ways to use opioids without getting dependent on them by stating that “opioids are used in varying doses (generally based on body weight for pediatric patients) by means of parental, transmucosal, transdermal, or oral administration (immediate release or modified release)” (Cooper). Other people like Christina Jensen-Daham says that opioids are beneficial for older patients and used in nursing homes because “pain is associated with lower quality of life and impairment of memory [needs to be] treated efficiently” (Daham 1). She is trying to prove that opioids have a beneficial side to them and should not always be viewed as a fatal drug.

All in all, opioid addiction is an apparent problem and, unfortunately, there is no push to put an end to the problem. There needs to be solutions to this epidemic and three efficient ways to end this epidemic is to crack down on why doctors continue to prescribe an excess amount of these pills to patients. Furthermore, these doctors could begin to prescribe less and less pills and eventually there will be less and less addicts throughout the years. Another way is to continue to educate high school students about the epidemic and give them real life, emotional scenarios that will make them not want to abuse opioids. Lastly, it is important to put money into rehabilitation centers because, in most cases, addicts want to put an end to their addiction, but they cannot overcome it alone. It is important that addicts have support by their sides that will help them overcome their addiction. This is why it is important for people to invest money beginning more rehabilitation centers that will lower the rising number of opioids addiction and overdose. By finding solutions, addiction rates will decrease and the more solutions we find the lower the rates of death there will be.

Now, let us talk about the economic aspect of the opioid crisis. Just over the past four years the opioid crisis has cost over $2.5 trillion. All this money and the United States is still not trying as hard as they should be to put an end to the epidemic. The United States has also not found the most effective ways to put an end to it to the point where you would think they are not trying at all because so much money is coming out of this epidemic that, of course, is going to the United States. Now, let us talk about where this money is coming from within this crisis. The CEA came out with a report stating that the money that is coming out of this opioid crisis is coming from, the value of lost lives, increases in healthcare and substance abuse treatment costs, increases in criminal justice costs, and reductions in productivity. Clearly the United States is making a huge amount of money from this crisis and need to put that money into stopping this epidemic. Well luckily, they have; in the past two years, $6 billion has been put into funding to help fight the opioid crisis in the United States. This funding also includes expanding access to medication-assisted treatment. The United States should continue to find ways to help end this crisis because it is killing many individuals each year. Most of the people who have become addicted to opioids want the help to stop. It is hard for people to stop because they are not getting the right support physically and emotionally. This is important because if given the access to do so, addicts will put in the effort to overcome their addiction, so why not help them?

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Opioid Addiction in Teenagers and Young Adults: D.A.R.E Program. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/opioid-addiction-in-teenagers-and-young-adults-d-a-r-e-program/
“Opioid Addiction in Teenagers and Young Adults: D.A.R.E Program.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/opioid-addiction-in-teenagers-and-young-adults-d-a-r-e-program/
Opioid Addiction in Teenagers and Young Adults: D.A.R.E Program. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/opioid-addiction-in-teenagers-and-young-adults-d-a-r-e-program/> [Accessed 4 Oct. 2022].
Opioid Addiction in Teenagers and Young Adults: D.A.R.E Program [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Oct 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/opioid-addiction-in-teenagers-and-young-adults-d-a-r-e-program/
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