The present opioid misuse and overdose crisis has emerged as one of the most devastating and lethal problems the world has ever faced. Although the pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s reassured the medical community that the patients would not become addicted to the medications, healthcare practitioners began to overprescribe them (Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs, n.d.). However, according to the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs (n.d.), the high prescription rates later led to increased misuse of non-prescription and prescription opioids before the medical community understood that the medications were addictive. As a result of the adverse impacts of these drugs, there have been immense concerns about the issue. Georgia’s state authorities can prevent the opioid crisis by formulating state prescription laws and limiting the flow of illicit opioids.
Strategies to Mitigate Opioid Crisis in Georgia
Georgia should enact numerous regulatory and legal strategies to address opioid abuse, drug misuse, and overdose. Specifically, there is a need to formulate and enforce prescription drug practices to guide the prescription and dispensation of opioids and laws to allow health practitioners to assess a client before prescribing opioids (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). All Georgian policymakers should make it mandatory to have state legal agencies that facilitate the doctors and help them prevent selling opioids to a single consumer in different centers. Hence, the most basic plan to prevent and mitigate the opioid crisis in Georgia is enacting laws to prevent opioid abuse, overdose, and misuse.
Moreover, the state must limit the distribution and selling of illicit opioids to prevent the opioid crisis. Evidence shows that opioid-related deaths emerge from certain opioids like illegally manufactured fentanyl or heroin (Homer & Wakeland, 2021). Georgia should establish collaborative efforts across borders to gather and update data about the distribution and use of opioids. The plan is to massively invest in research to understand the current trends leading to abuse and curb any illegal manufacturing of opioids.
Another strategy that could help in mitigating the opioid crisis in Georgia is stopping excessive prescription of opioid pain medications by the healthcare professionals. Latest laws regarding opioid use made it easier for patients to get a prescription for opioids from a doctor, and in most cases, insurance companies cover these costs. As a result, opioids have become a powerful industry that provides significant profits.
A closer look at prescribing practices reveals discrepancies between the amount of drug prescribed and the actual medical need. The appropriate conditions for the use of opioids occurs when patient’s pain – acute or chronic – cannot be relieved by non-opioid drugs. Additionally, they can also be used for management of postoperative pain and in palliative care. Opioid therapy should have as short of a duration as possible to lessen the risk of opioid addiction occurring (Pino & Wakeman, 2022). According to Pino and Wakeman (2022), for the majority of painful conditions that are unrelated to surgery or trauma, only a three-day prescription of opioids is necessary. Thus, healthcare professionals with access to controlled substances prescription should consult the existing guidelines before making a decision to prescribe opioids and look at each individual case with especial care.
The problem of overprescribing opioids is often discussed in relation to the poor training of specialists in the field of pain management and relief of pain, which leads them to turn to opioids. In this regard, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised existing clinical guidelines in accordance with current data to reduce the number of prescribed opioids in the treatment of chronic pain (Dowell, 2018). Dowell (2018) describes definitions of acute and chronic pain, provides evidence for the need to update existing guidelines, and outlines policies, guides, evaluation tools, and specific characteristics of prescribing opioids for pain management. Healthcare workers can use this document to educate themselves and their patients on how opioids should be prescribed.
The opioid crisis erupted in large part because of a lack of understanding of how to treat chronic pain. There is strong scientific research to help manage pain and promote the appropriate use of opioids. However, social changes and new policies are also required to change the situation and mediate the existing consequences of the opioid epidemic. Thus, the state of Georgia should take comprehensive measures aimed at different aspects of the issue in order to relieve the crisis and prevent its further development.
Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs (ASPA). (n.d.). What is the U.S. opioid epidemic? HHS.gov. Web.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). CDC – prescription drugs – publications and resources – public health law. Web.
Dowell, D. (2021). Draft updated CDC guideline for prescribing opioids: Background, overview, and progress. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.
Homer, J., & Wakeland, W. (2021). A dynamic model of the opioid drug epidemic with implications for policy. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 47(1), 5-15.
Pino, C. A., & Wakeman, S. E. (2022). Prescription of opioids for acute pain in opioid naïve patients. UpToDate. Web.