For me, this is an extremely near and dear subject, a good friend of mine passed away due to an accidental overdose. A series of observations coupled with an analysis of the available evidence will show that the problem of the opioid epidemic is caused not only by the prevalence of drug-related crimes (“Crime prevention programs,” n.d.). My friend and neighbor Jennifer was a mother and wife, she had three beautiful daughters. Jennifer suffered from multiple different injuries and diseases. She had severe migraines as well as a bad back from a car accident that she was in. Her normal doctor was on base, but she saw multiple different specialty physicians off-post. At that time, many doctors and pharmacies had no established communication channels, which led to a failure in analyzing emergent trends and addressing public health issues promptly. As a result, what one doctor wrote for a prescription was not being seen by other doctors or ERs.
On further scrutiny, Jennifer’s problems were legitimate, yet she was on an enormous amount of pain pills that she should not have consumed. One evening I remember seeing her outside, where she was struggling to fall asleep. Her back was bothering her, and she had a bad migraine, so she took her medications for both. Now and then she would have a little to drink but nothing excessively and she was always all right. She had a little this night and said she was going to try and sleep. It was the last I had seen of her, then I found out she was found on the front lawn by her daughter Cameron (12 yrs. old) that morning. She had been trying to come back into her gate to her backyard and never made it. They did an autopsy and said that there was no foul play or an overdose. Instead, it was just an accidental overdose, namely, an instance when someone takes what they are prescribed, yet it leads to a fatal outcome because healthcare practitioners failed to identify the correct amount of medication appropriate for the patient. Fighting this epidemic is hard because we have cartels, drug dealers, patients, and our very own doctors. Therefore, the question of whether the problem of the opioid epidemic can be managed arises.
Understandably, the circumstances in which one may develop a dependency on opioids vary substantially. Some need opioids as medication for alleviating pain and are in real pain or are going through cancer and are seriously suffering. Then, some people cannot afford to pay for their medication and do not have insurance and their only way is to buy it off the street. So, as we are to look at this subject, I hope I can get you to open your eyes and see that this is a problem that we all need to be concerned about. As well as marijuana is now legalized in most states but is one of the main drugs being laced with fentanyl. This is affecting our community more than we know. Therefore, the issue has gained enough urgency to warrant closer consideration.
The so-called “rainbow fentanyl” is synthetic and is being made by the two main Mexican drug cartels (Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel) then brought over the border. They are being sold to our children as well as those that can’t buy prescription medicine. Herein lies the problem with this normal fentanyl pill. Specifically, it can be measured to identify exactly how much one receives, and it is divided into portions to be consumed over a certain amount of time. For instance, if one is on the patch; one will wear that patch that is anywhere from 12mcg to 100mcg. One can change it out the earliest every two days and the longest every three days. One’s body will only receive so much every day, every hour so it does not overdose. When one receives synthetically made fentanyl pills, powder, and blocks, there is no way to tell how concentrated it is without accurate measurements. So far, 42% of the synthetic fentanyl that has been assessed has shown to have at least 2 Milligrams, which is a lethal dose (Bopp, 2021). I do stress that because the normal dosage if not having been caught prior was only micrograms. Not only are the cartel making them without any care or concern for the dosage. The substance might seem innocuous enough, especially at a seemingly small dosage, but it is even more addictive than normal fentanyl. This is extremely dangerous, and we need to get ahead of this before it takes too many lives, they are lacing cigarettes, marijuana, Percocet’s, oxy, cocaine, heroin, and just about any other drug that is sold either on the streets or online with this. Furthermore, as said before, with marijuana being legalized in many states, it is not a crime to buy it so you can have a lawyer, a grandmother, a preacher, a mother, a father, or an addict. The point is you do not simply have to go to the store to buy it because it is legalized and mainly it will be cheaper to get on the streets rather than in a store. As a result, now we are looking at way more deaths because they are lacing it to get these folks addicted. More clientele is all they see and more money. It is our job to protect our community and our families. Drug overdose deaths increased at an annual rate of 7.98% over the last 3 years (Bopp, 2021). Last year alone there were 2.266 drug overdoses in the state of South Carolina (Bopp, 2021). The fastest-growing drug category among drug overdose deaths is synthetic opioids and many opioid deaths involve other drugs.
South Carolina Opioid Settlement Allocation Agreement
Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the final approval of the $ 26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors. Cardinal, McKesson, and Amerisource Bergen, and Johnson & Johnson, South Carolina will receive more than $ 300 million from the settlement (‘Welcome | South Carolina Opioid Recovery Fund Board,” n.d.). All 46 counties in South Carolina and all 43 eligible municipalities, as well as the Health Services District of Kershaw County, have signed on to the agreement. More than 92 % of the funds will be used directly to address the opioid crisis in South Carolina. It will go towards treatment, recovery, harm reduction, and other strategies.
According to those in charge, it will take officials three years to start this program. Admittedly, there is an official website, yet the specified resource is insufficient for massive change. One must be an elected official to be on the board and you also must have a college degree in the health field or science. State officials have a mandated minimum of four meets a year, but this is how they are going to combat this problem (“DEA warns of brightly colored Fentanyl used to target young Americans,” 2022). They also said that they are going to leave it up to the individual on which program they feel is the right one for them. Therefore, access to programs for managing drug issues and addressing the needs of people with substance misuse is limited. Furthermore, it is unclear how a doctor or someone is who is only meeting possibly four times a year and may never have had to deal with anyone that has had an addiction or had to be on an opioid for any long periods (Spence, 2021). Likewise, further clarifications are required regarding how a person will be able to navigate these programs and select an appropriate one. A state official addressing drug misuse issues needs to have experience and health literacy, as well as a college education. However, other options can be pursued o improve health policies, including collaboration with the right partners. Moreover, officials have also placed a three-year restriction on the availability of services and funds. The specified change is not helping the community; quite the contrary, it means that the folks in charge are not doing their due diligence and ensuring that the funds are being spent on the individuals in their area to help combat their addictions, as well as the opioid crisis, in general.
Combat the Crisis while Working Together
One of my suggestions is to a member of the community that can get along with the political side as well as the street side. To make a program that has nothing at all to do with the Police and in fact to ensure that anyone who sits on this board or collaborates with the team, as well as that they are vetted deeply and have no ties back to law enforcement. Thus, one can build the trust of those with whom we will be working. I would ask that some of the funds be used to buy substantial amounts of Narcan, Opioid specific testing stripes, and pre-paid cell phones. We would then sit down with the drug dealers in our areas and talk with them about passing out Narcan with every deal that they made. Specifically, one should check whether only those that are being prescribed it through the pharmacy can receive Narcan. Currently, Narcan is distributed in a highly unjust manner, with those who need it being deprived of it (“Opioid epidemic | SCDHEC,” n.d.). Thus, one should create premises for the specified demographic to assess their product before selling any of it to ensure its safety. The cell phone would be used only in the case of an emergency should a customer overdose and they could call healthcare experts. Thus, one could take the person in need to the hospital for care, as well as ask them to pass on any customers that had any deep addictions so that they could receive help. Although this is not a normal political strategy, t could save millions upon millions of lives if it were given a chance.
I hope with all that I have presented that you see this is a greater issue than you and I may have realized at first but hopefully, I have brought some insight to you. I wish to get my degree so one day I can be a member of the board and be effective. I am willing not only to share my ideas, but also implement them actively and support those in need of urgent healthcare assistance. Hopefully, if one gets any opioid prescriptions, particularly, multiple Narcan’s, one should consider giving an extra one to a neighbor so that they will have it available just in case of an emergency. Furthermore, it is vital to check with the state to see if they are a part of the settlement agreement since, hopefully, positive change can be introduced.
Bopp, C. (2021). SC opioid overdose cases up 53%, typically spike during holiday season. Live 5 News WCSC. Web.
Crime prevention programs. (n.d.). Web.
DEA warns of brightly colored Fentanyl used to target young Americans. (2022). DEA. Web.
Opioid epidemic | SCDHEC. (n.d.). Web.
Spence, S. (2021). A Charleston task force has changed how first responders talk about opioid addiction. Charleston City Paper. Web.
Welcome | South Carolina Opioid Recovery Fund Board. (n.d.). Web.