Stopping the Opioid Epidemic

How to Reduce Overdose Deaths and How to Stop Opioid Epidemic? 

The opioid epidemic was responsible for over 33,000 deaths in the United States in 2015. However, there are three easy steps that might be helpful to get relief for opioid epidemic, according to a new study, including –

  • Counseling
  • Getting seen by the doctor every 3 months
  • Not prescribing narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medications to the patients addicted to opioids.

People with addiction to opioids are more likely to die than others, i.e. by around 20 times higher. So, it is important to find relief and cut the risk of death, according to a researcher, Dr. Katherine Watkins. She is a policy researcher and senior physician at Rand Corporation, a non-profit organization in the US.

Whether such patients are being treated for dependency, doctors are trying to control the risk of deaths. Watkins is not sure how such three steps are taken in general practice.  

She explained, “One thing which is important is to invest in quality care. These are the first steps that health care systems and doctors should do.”

According to the researchers, around 32000 patients were addicted to narcotics and cured in the US Veterans Affairs system in 2006-07. The researchers have done case studies and found that three steps could reduce the risk of deaths by the year end. 

One of the best ways to reduce the risk of deaths among these patients is to stop prescribing narcotic painkillers like OxyContin, Vicoprofen, and benzodiazepines.

Benzodiazepines are used for anxiety relief. Avoiding this medication is very easy as you may prescribe its alternatives. Opioids, which are generally prescribed after injury or surgery, are used to relieve acute pain. So, avoiding them is not so easy. 

According to Watkins, doctors should prescribe lower doses to the patients. With the help of counseling, overdose deaths could be controlled as it can benefit addicted patients.