In the recent past, the world has witnessed increased rates of deaths due to abuse of opioids drugs. Opioids are used to relieve severe, acute, or moderate pain among the users. The epidemic can be traced back to 1990s when there was widespread concern on the drugs that can be used to relieve pain among patients. The medical community was concerned that the level of pain among the patients was under assessed and undertreated. Physicians observed that to improve the level of reliability and validity on the pain scales among the patients, it was important to ask the patients directly about the pain scales. It was then decided that health care professionals should introduce both pharmacological and non-pharmacological ways of treating the pain and relieving such pain. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO), in 2001, introduced new policies that were used as a guide to observe and record pain scales among patients. The commission recommended the new policies and guidelines which every doctor had to follow and abide to. All physicians had to ensure the level of pain among the patients is monitored and addressed accordingly. Failure to follow the guidelines would lead to reprimands on the physicians. With such conditions and policies, the physicians had no alternative other than recommending strong pain relieving drugs such as opioids.
Excessive prescription of the drug led to dependency and addiction. This in turn lead to the opioid epidemic in the U.S today. Frequent evaluation and documentation of pain, which was recommended by the commission made the physicians assess perceived pain on every patient. The physicians had to ensure that they abide by all guidelines as provided by accreditation bodies, thus, they were trying to relieve pain on patients with every means possible. It is for this reason that the physicians began to prescribe drugs for both chronic and acute pain leading to drugs dependency and tolerance on the patients. Relieving pain became the primary focus of the physicians and they perceived prescription of opioids as the safest and easiest way of relieving pain leading to opioids epidemic in the country.
What are the impacts of opioids prescription on patients suffering from pain over a long period of time?
The PICOT question being asked is population. This is a population question because there are specific conditions, risk factors, and characteristics that are of interest. (Houser, 2018). To address opioids epidemic, the research utilizes studies with controlled variables to analysis whether prescription opioids are causing more harm than good to the patients and their families. A quantative study will be conducted to help in gathering data and information regarding this topic. Use of quantative study will help in providing a detailed information regarding how many people have been affected by opioids. It will also help in finding their feelings and attitudes on the use of opioids among the population in U.S.
Levels of Evidence
A study conducted by Goleman (1987) found that the drugs are not always dangerous on the users if they are strictly used for their specified reasons. The drugs however become dangerous if they are mixed with other stronger pain relieving drugs, abused, used without prior knowledge of how they work, and when used to treat chronic pain. Opioids are highly addictive, thus, when used to relieve acute pain the users become dependent on the drugs. A study conducted by Allouche, Noble & Marie (2014) asserted that use of opioids drugs for a long term to relieve chronic pain causes the drugs to become tolerant such that one requires more opioids to relieve pain. Such issues may even make the patient overdose. This exposes them to high risks and life threatening conditions. Opioids are also made from synthetic products. Therefore, some unethical and unscrupulous manufactures may add some chemicals and substances during the manufacturing process. Some of these substances may expose users to devastating conditions since some are not supposed to be ingested or used by humans. The ease of access to the drugs and their efficacy in relieving pain attracts more people to use them leading to overdose and deaths associated with the drugs. It is for this reasons that there is epidemic in the use of opioids and increase in rates of death and life-threatening conditions among the population in U.S and other parts of the world.
The level of addiction on opioids drugs was expected to be low if used with other non-pharmacological means of relieving pain. The drugs dependency is however dependent on different populations in the society. Special populations such as chronic pain patients, post-surgery patients, and cancer patients requires large doses of pain and other pain relieving drugs to address their conditions. Such fact means, people unable to afford these medications have to purchase other street drugs to relieve their pain effectively. In view of this, some unethical physicians usually prescribe stronger pain relieving drugs which they advise the patients to use together with the opioids. Use of such drugs leads to devastating effects on the health of patients. This special population requires pain relieving drugs for longer period of time, thus, leading to addiction, dependency, and life-threatening conditions.
The addiction and dependency on the drugs is also a concern on the family units. The addiction causes the parents to use more funds which could have otherwise been used to support children and or families. The problem affects not only the users but their children/dependents, relatives, and society at large. Such issues make this topic of great importance and it requires much focus to address this epidemic in U.S.
Opioids are readily available in many clinics, thus, patients can easily access them any time. It is therefore very important to address this epidemic as it would help in raising awareness among the population. Information generated through the study of opioids epidemic can also be used by policy makers to initiate programs and guidelines that would help in addressing the problem. The paper is also very important among law enforcement officers as it shows how unethical individuals in the medical community have taken advantage of patients’ desperation for relieving their pain to make money through prescription of stronger pain relievers which are used together with opioids.
In researching for articles in the database provided by Chamberlain University, I searched terms such as; opioid use, opioid overdose, impacts of opioid abuse, and opioids awareness programs. In order to make the process easier, abstracts of the articles were read to help in understanding the contents of the articles. The abstracts were also used to help in analyzing the population in which the study was conducted. The current study focuses on U.S population. Based on such fact, the articles that focused on populations from other countries were removed from the required articles.
One of the most relevant articles found was titled, “Harm reduction strategies for the opioid crisis.” This article was highlighted as one of the most important articles as it raises important data and information on how humans can address the issue of spread of diseases by addressing population growth. The second article that was found very important in addressing future topics is, “Psychosocial benefits of substitution therapy in opioid addicts. Buprenorphine versus Methadone.” The article was selected as it provides important ways through which opioid addiction can be addressed.
In order to research, developing a PICOT question is vital. This will allow you to identify the type of research required to thoroughly explore the topic. Therefore, the information required will be more focused. America is facing a big problem with the effects of opioids. This epidemic has proven to be detrimental to our society. In conclusion, research has to be done in order to address the problem, consequences , and solutions to come.