Bioethics Blogs

A Shot of Hope: Efforts to Address the Opioid Addiction Crisis

A Shot of Hope: Efforts to Address the Opioid Addiction

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine,
drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US with close to
50,000 deadly overdoses in 2015 alone. 
Opioid addiction accounted for nearly 20,000 of these and heroin alone was a
factor in just over 10,500 deaths. The magnitude of opioid abuse related
hospitalizations, sales of prescription pain killers and deaths have increase
exponentially between 1999 and 2008 according to ASAM. Increased access to
Narcan (naloxone) to reverse life threatening effects of opioid for first
responders has now expanded to making Narcan available to the general public as
well. In some areas, Narcan can be purchased without a prescription by family
members and friends who expect they may need to quickly rescue a loved one. 
While I support this program because it can and will likely save lives, it
does not address the need for effective rehabilitation of persons who suffer
the all-consuming and devastating effects of opioid addiction. Regulations
which will allow persons with opioid addictions to be detained involuntarily in
health care setting are also being discussed, but pose some dilemmas as well.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has taken a strong
stand to help limit access to the powerful pain medication by placing statutory
limits on the quantity of opioid pain medication that can be prescribed to a
patient to a 72 hour supply the first time opioids are prescribed to them –
with exceptions.  Ph
ysicians have had a mixed response according the October 2015 Boston Globe

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.