The world is currently facing many serious problems. Racism and race-related riots, crippling poverty, environmental crisis, and unstable economic conditions are just among the few concerns that the world has been dealing with for years. Various national security concerns always take the front seat, like those that involve peace and order, trade, and political stability. Most of these issues are relayed to the public through the use of mass media channels (newspaper, radio, and television), the internet, and social media. Right now, the main focus of many governments is fighting COVID-19, and as a result, there is no strong emphasis on other humanitarian and healthcare issues.
Nonetheless, many problems that require the attention of leaders and the action and participation of every stakeholder that fly under the radar deserves to be addressed, one of which is the opioid crisis. Overdose and misuse of prescription drugs is on the rise and, if left unchecked, will continue to worsen over time. This makes it important for responsible citizens make use of opioid crisis locking medication bags to secure the medication they have in their possession and keep it away from those who could be misusing it or taking it without prescription. But this is just one small step. Bigger action is needed now as the world continues to feel the effects of the opioid crisis in different fronts.
A Worldwide Crisis
While the world today is currently focused on fighting COVID-19 which is an urgent healthcare emergency, the opioid crisis rages on, affecting many people all around the world. According to the World Health Organization, of the 0.5 million deaths resulting from drug use, 70% are related to the use of opioids, and 30% of this is death by overdose.
The opioid crisis is a problem not just in the US but around the world. Countries like Italy are also feeling the effect of the opioid crisis and they have taken steps to keep the problem from worsening.
The Lancet reported that in the Netherlands, opioid use and misuse of prescription opioids increased from 2008 to 2017. As a result, there was a reported increase in hospitalization because of prescription opioid intoxication.
While there is no questioning the extent and range of this global problem, emphasis is on the United States because despite accounting for just 5% of the world population, Americans account for a large part of worldwide opioid consumption: a staggering 80%.
How the Opioid Crisis has Affected Us
The effects of the opioid crisis have been wide-ranging, costly, lethal, and devastating. It has severely affected the quality of life not just for those directly involved in the use or consumption of opioid, but also the people involved with people addicted to opioids and abusing the use of opioids. Because of the addiction to opioid use of many people including pregnant women, even newborn babies display the ill-effects of the addiction. It has led to increased government spending. It has negatively affected the community. It has caused a stigma.
The journal Transplantation has outlined a long list of effects of the opioid crisis which paints a grim picture. The opioid crisis resulted in deaths and lower life expectancy. In the US, epidemic-level opioid-related morbidity and mortality is the state of the nation, and year after year, death rate has been increasing. Before, accidental death among adults is often motor or firearms-related; now it is drug overdose and misuse. Drug overdose has more than doubled. The use and addiction to opioid progressed to addiction in illegal substances like heroin, and as a result, deaths due to heroin overdose have also increased. Those involved in the illegal manufacturing and selling of substance saw the opportunity and now sales and distribution has also increased as a result of the opioid crisis.
Economic Impact of the Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis also had economic repercussions happening on different levels. From a national standpoint and state-level perspective, managing and fighting the opioid crisis has resulted in government spending. From a more personal point of view, the economic effect of the opioid crisis on individuals and families is considerable. Those who are addicted and those who have to deal with family members suffering from addiction are all prone to lost wages and decrease in productivity which adversely affects their financial situation.
Overall, the cost of the opioid crisis to the US economy is at US $631B from 2015 to 2018, and this includes healthcare spending. From 2015 to 2018, the mortality costs resulting from the opioid crisis in the US has amounted to $253 billion, attributed to the lost earnings of individuals who died or died prematurely as a result of opioid addiction and misuse. There is also cost resulting from related criminal justice activities. And because opioid addiction resulted to lost jobs and lost wages, state and government spending now have to include financial assistance and support for children and families in need of allowances and financial support. Education programs and information initiatives also need funding, adding to the government spending allocated for fighting this crisis.
It is important to keep in mind that all of these – lost wages and earnings, financial losses of companies and employers affected by opioid addiction, government spending, and financial insecurity directly related to opioid crisis experienced by individuals, families, and communities – will not stop soon and will continue to become a problem for as long as the opioid crisis persists.
The opioid crisis is a crippling problem in the US and worldwide, something that needs to be addressed immediately and decisively using an approach that guarantees real, lasting, and significant effects that involves the government, the citizens, law enforcement, health and medical field, and corporations especially those involved in the production and selling of opioids. Losing money because of this crisis is a real problem, but the real reason for addressing this issue soon is because people are suffering and dying.