The Opioid Crisis in the United States 

The United States is currently faced with a health issue that affects a significant number of Americans which is the usage of Opioids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse “in 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses,” (para. 1, 2021), this is a decently sized portion of our population. Opioids are a class of drug that is typically used to relieve pain. Some of the common types are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone. These different types of opioids are prescribed to people for a variety of procedures, medical problems you may have, etc. Opioid misuse first began in the 1990’s and medical professionals began to assure the public that people would not become addicted to this drug. However this drug triggers the release of endorphins, which transmit a “feel good” reaction. 

When researching how many people residing in Virginia are addicted to opioids, the number was shocking. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in Virginia “1,193 drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018,” (para.6, 2021). Another statistic that was brought to my attention in this article was that in 2018, “Virginia providers wrote 44.8 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons compared to the average US rates of 51.4 prescriptions,” (para. 9, 2021). The number of prescriptions written alone in Virginia is only 6.6 away from being at the average. These two statistics alone are shocking to me because I have lived in Virginia my entire life and never knew that the opioid crisis was this large until I arrived at college and saw a presentation on it. 

This is a human, health security problem because Americans are dying every single day from preventable deaths. Doctors are prescribing prescriptions that they are aware people could become addicted to. Not every single person that takes this drug will become addicted but it’s obvious to see that many do. We could prevent these deaths by providing more information when the drug is prescribed to patients. Medical professionals could also find alternatives to provide people that are less addictive but also still relieve the pain as well. It also becomes a security issue because once someone’s prescription has run out and they’re addicted they will try all forms of violence or mayhem to receive this drug that will continue their addiction. It also poses the question as to where they are receiving the drug when it is not prescribed to them and they are obtaining it illegally. People could be receiving it from overseas or right here in the United Security, which poses a threat to human security. Are people from overseas providing these drugs to us or are we providing the drugs to them?

I am curious to see what you think about this topic as a human and health security problem. 

-Olivia Lewis 

Websites: 

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/virginia-opioid-involved-deaths-related-harms

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

An additional website on how Opioid addiction occurs: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/how-opioid-addiction-occurs/art-20360372