Crack Epidemic V. the Opioid Epidemic

Crack Epidemic V. the Opioid Epidemic

The recent emergence of an epidemic of drug addiction amongst younger adults in the society is a consequence of abuse opioids and cocaine (Kloner et al. 3). Their abuse has reached epidemic levels since they are inexpensive, readily available, and easily obtained as prescription drugs from drug stores. Both drugs produce immediate and intense euphoria to the user that lasts for a few minutes, and their pronounced use often leads to addiction (Kloner et al. 3). This paper examines the abuse of prescription opioids, the effects of crack addiction and the steps the Government has put in place to curb this drug addiction menace.

Opioids are a class of palliative drugs used across the globe for the treatment of chronic pain in hospitals and the management of other categories of acute pain. The rising epidemic is among younger adults who are victims of illicitly created opioids like painkiller and other generic modified opioids (Seervai et al. 15). Scientists have argued that over-prescription of opioids coupled with overdose has contributed to the surge in deaths amongst the urban communities. The problem of this drug abuse began in the early 1990s after the healthcare providers promised not to offer pain relievers that were addictive. Due to the trust that was vested on the practitioners, the drug use was widely spread. Before they came to realize that these drugs were highly addictive, most people had already become chronic users and addicts (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1). Currently, research shows that more than 29 percent of the people who have a prescription for these drugs end up abusing them. 

Additionally, of those 29 percent who abuse opioids, more than 8 percent develop a disorder known as an opioid disorder. Also, about five percent of the users usually end up being heroin users (National Institute on Drug Abuse 1). The consequences associated with prolonged use of this drug include neonatal abstinence syndrome and HIV to those who use injections. 

On the other hand, we have crack, made by converting cocaine hydrochloride by cooking it in ammonia, and the hardened substance cut into rock or chips (Drug abuse 1). The effects of snorted crack are instantaneous to the brain, resulting in an extremely intense addictive euphoria. Common ground exists as regards to the effects of overindulgence in either of these addictive drugs.

To begin with, statistics have shown that abuse of cocaine remains a prevalent problem among African Americans as opioids are among to the White Americans (Armour and Peterson 6). Studies have further shown that cocaine-related overdose deaths were more prevalent among the black community, and were at par with opioid-related deaths amongst the white community (Armour and Peterson 7). Indicators suggest that abuse of crack and opioids can lead to addiction consequently causing grave health and social problems amongst the neighborhood.

Prolonged use of crack and cocaine is associated with a variety of health problems and disorders. Recent studies have shown that 26 out of 1090 stroke cases related to acute cocaine use, which often resulted in death or lifetime disability (Kloner et al. 3). Also, the mix of victimization crack and fascinating in sexual activities has contributed to the rise in HIV and AIDS amongst our youth. Efforts to rehabilitate crack addicts should be encouraged using a three-pronged approach. First is to promote detoxification amongst users, which involves alleviating the drug abusers of the much-needed crack in their body systems. Secondly, addicts should be encouraged to seek outpatient treatment combined with counseling and therapy. In this kind of treatment, patients specialize in exchange for the previous behaviors related to drug use with new behaviors that avoid drug use (Drug Abuse 8). Lastly, the creation of more rehabilitation centers while at the same time, modernizing and equipping the existing ones. These are drug-free residential programs for patients that can last between 3months to 2 years depending on the needs of the addict. The expectation is that the prolonged confinement of the addict in the facility will help to improve behavior by completely changing their lifestyle.

The Government has tried to put measures to oversee the opioid industry, which is a booming market. While a number of these policies may be effective in addressing the prescription opioid epidemic, prescription oversight is one they will do very little for the illicit manufactured opioid (Seervai et al. 16). There exists a huge underground market of illegally procured opioids such as fentanyl among the young population. Congress on its part has prioritized opioid addiction at the core of their agenda, and members have made a budgetary allocation of 6 billion dollars over two years targeted for opioid and mental-health issues (Armour and Peterson 1). Although policymakers have tried interventions to implement life-saving measures, evidence indicates that the impact on the ground is negligible. For example, a presidential task force proposed a raft of strict measures including federal grant blocks to states and strict guidelines to health stakeholders regarding prescription of painkillers (Seervai et al. 4). There has been just about no effort to implement these doubtless life-saving policies to date.

In other words, policymakers ought to select and prioritize the distinct challenges associated with every epidemic’s unique attributes and speedy increase in deadliness. Research aimed at increasing quality and efficiency in the provision of prompt healthcare services to the suffering patients and drug addicts is paramount (Seervai et al. 14). Different tactics are necessary to curb the illegal fentanyl market and to put restrictions on the prescription of opioids to reduce fatalities associated with overdose.

In conclusion, the use of prescription drugs is among the leading cause of death in the United States. It is evident that overuse of both crack and opioids have affected the core of the American society by the high number of death rates and increased rates in the HIV related cases amongst the young population. Although the Government has put in place measures to regulate drug trafficking and reduce the effects of the drug use, there exists a shortfall in the areas of implementation of guidelines governing over-prescription of opioids. As such, this should be an area of interest to the government. Finally, yet importantly, this essay aims to serve as a wakeup call to the Government and society at large, that crack and opioid epidemics pose a great risk to our young future generation and bring much-needed awareness on the effects of drug abuse. It is therefore paramount for every citizen to ensure that people are living in a drug-free society. This way, the young people will remain productive and contribute to the building of the economy. 

Works Cited

Arnav Shah, Eric C. Schneider, and Shanoor Seervai.   The U.S. Has Two Opioid Epidemics: “The Federal Response Should Consider Both.” March 22, 2018.

Drug Abuse. The Crack Cocaine Epidemic: Health Consequences and Treatment, January 1991. https://www.gao.gov/assets/90/89031.pdf

Havakuk, Ofer, Shereif H. Rezkalla , and Robert A. Kloner. “The Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 70.1 (2017): 101-113. Web. 08 Dec. 2018.

Kristina Peterson and Stephanie Armour Opioid vs. Crack: Congress Reconsiders Its Approach to Drug Epidemic. May 5, 2018.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid Overdose Crisis. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

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