Essay Sample on Opioid Overdose

Published: 2022-12-28
Essay Sample on Opioid Overdose
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Healthcare policy Substance abuse Community health
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1793 words
15 min read

Overdose of some pharmaceutical product is one of the significant public health issues that have been putting human health at risk in Washington and other states in the United States. The current crisis is based on Opioid overdose which increased the death rate in the United States (Choi, DiNitto, Marti& Choi, 2019). Opioids have been approved and used as pain relievers for over 80 years in the United States. The prescription of opioids increases each year, and the patients use the medication outside the healthcare setting. The causes of the overdose may be as a result of the willingness of the patients, but in most cases, they use the medications to relieve excessive pain which they are not able to control. Some of the general causes of opioid overdose include intentional and unintentional overdose, drug prescription error during therapy and substance abuse.

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Also, opioid overdose in the United States has been related to about more than 90 deaths in the United States daily. Sometimes, the overdose may not be as a result of doctors prescriptions but also through other illegal means such as drug abuse. The sale of illicit drugs in the United States is increasingly high in each year where the sellers include some additives without the knowledge of the buyers (Choi, DiNitto, Marti& Choi, 2019). The additives may contain some pharmacological agents who are active, thus resulting in opioids overdose without the understanding of the individual users. Moreover, some patients are prescribed by the doctors the opioid they should take, but when the pain exceeds other medical condition takes time to heal, they turn in to other non-medical treatments to relieve pain such as heroin (Choi, DiNitto, Marti& Choi, 2019). This case mostly affects patients with mental disorders such as stress and depression. Heroin is much cheaper than the sale price of opioids prescribed by the doctors. It costs less than 2 dollars per bag, and that is why most of the patients would instead purchase it than go for medical prescriptions. Heroin contains some components of opioids such as fentanyl which may be at high concentrations leading to an overdose of opioids. The most affected demographic group by this condition includes the youths who are mainly the victims of illicit drugs and substance abuse.

Overdose of opioids may lead to toxicity and severe complications to the patients which may even lead to death. Some of the people affected and mostly involved in this health condition include males, patients with severe psychiatric and other medical conditions such as depression and other mental problems, those that take sedative medications together with opioids, patients that are in escalating doses and people in the young ages between 20 to 40 years (Schuchat, Houry &Guy, 2017). In the United States, there are at least 1.5 million people per year who visit the emergency departments due to the serious effects of an opioid overdose. The 1.5 million people include mostly young people between the ages of 20 to 40 years which is the leading population in the United States. The overdose prevention and patient safety act will affect the most significant part of the population in Washington and other states since opioid overdose is a widespread condition.

The Severity of the Health Problem

Overdose of opioids is a severe condition not only in the United States but spread in the whole world. In the United States, they are prescribed for both moderate and severe pain, either alone or with other anti-inflammatory medicines (Schuchat, Houry&Guy, 2017). According to information from Drug Abuse and Warning Network, it is evident that between the year 2004 and 2011, the abuse of some of the opioids such as buprenorphine and hydromorphone increased at a rate of 383% and 437 % respectively (Schuchat, Houry&Guy, 2017). Other opioids overdose includes fentanyl which is mostly added in heroin, oxycodone, tramadol, and hydrocodone.

Moreover, the United States center for Poison control also revealed a sum of more than 18, 000 emergencies resulting from pure opioids which lead to about 700 toxicity incidences and 60 fatalities (Schuchat, Houry&Guy, 2017). Besides, the institution also showed a total of about 14,000 emergencies and exposures to opioids combined with other substances such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen. Opioids together with other substances overdose lead to more than 200 chronic toxicity and more than 200 fatalities (Schuchat, Houry&Guy, 2017).

Opioids overdose can lead to various severe side effects relating to the skin, pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological and psychiatric conditions. The use of opioid substances such as the fentanyl may lead to urticarial, flushed skin and itching especially to the addicts who subcutaneously inject themselves (Rudd, Aleshire, Zibbell, & Matthew Gladden, 2016). In the cases of pulmonary impacts, some victims experience frozy sputum, dyspnea, bradypnea, shallow breathing, and hypopnea. Respiratory effects of opioids overdose can be severe leading to deaths. Overdose of opioids may also lead to a variety of cardiovascular conditions such as chronic hypotension which is caused by vasodilation (Rudd, et al., 2016). Patients with opioids overdose toxicity also experience gastrointestinal disorders through nausea and vomiting. Some of the psychiatric conditions which result from opioids toxicity include hallucinations, depression, anxiety, dysphoria, and agitation. Moreover, the opioids toxicity also causes neurological disorders such as seizure which mostly occurs in youths and young children whose brain is still under development.

There are a variety of consequences to opioids overdose if interventions are not undertaken. For instance Washington and other states in the United States, there can be a tremendous increase in the death rates as well as an increase in the costs incurred in the health care sector (Rudd, Aleshire, Zibbell, & Matthew Gladden, 2016). Also, some of the impacts of opioids overdose such as psychiatric conditions like judgment impairment may also increase the rate if crimes in the states.

Overview of the Bill

The "Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act" is a legislative bill that was proposed on 11th February this year by America's health insurance plan. It is ongoing in the, and the percentage probability of its enactment is high. It aims at improving and providing adequate care and safety for patients and individuals suffering from overdose and addiction to opioids and other substances (Congress, 2019). The bill requires that the medical records of patients suffering from Substance Use Disorders to be disclosed like the case in other chronic diseases. The patients must first provide their medical information before receiving any treatment and making payments for healthcare services (Congress, 2019). The bill expects that the health insurance and health care providers will have the necessary information required to examine the full condition of the patient before attending to them to ensure quality, effective and safe treatments to Substance Use Disorders' patients.

Promises and Expected Outcome of the Bill

America's Health Insurance promises to offer quality and sufficient safety in the treatment of patients suffering from opioids overdose and other substance abuse providing the health care providers with full information about the medical history of the patient (Congress, 2019). The expected outcome of the bill is to reduce the number of deaths and toxicity cases reported in the emergency departments each year by managing the instances of opioids toxicity and abuse of other substances. As a result, the cost incurred in the health sector due to the high rate of health conditions associated with the misuse of drugs and overdose of opioids will be decreased.

Problems of the Bill

The bill has a variety of opposes who find its requirements unpleasing especially now that the current federal regulations require that the patient have to be given the freedom on what information to disclose and with who (Congress, 2019). Most of the opponents to the America's health insurance bill on Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act suggest that disclosure of patients' health record information, especially on substance abuse, would lower their dignity. According to the proposed bill, the patient information can also be disclosed to other persons for further examinations and non-pharmacological therapies. Thus, the patients will be denied confidentiality to their medical information.

The proposed bill, it requires that the medical records of the patient are stored electronically (Congress, 2019). However, the electronic records' integrity is still under question if the patients and other parties involved are not notified in case of a breach to the files by unauthorized persons. Besides, the bill does not give the patients the freedom to make their medical decisions which sounds unrealistic.

Unintended Consequences of the Bill

The requirement of the law to disclose patient information to the health care providers and the health insurance may scare most of substance abuse victims from visiting the health facilities in case of emergencies. Confidentiality of health information is one of the most crucial factors that motivate patients to visit health institutions for treatments(Klein & Pearson, 2019). Therefore, if this factor is eliminated, most patients may end up suffering and avoid health institutions for the sake of keeping their information private. As a result, there will be a high rate of increased death rates resulting from opioids overdose and other substance abuse.

Moreover, the bill may increase opioids overdose as many patients may seek to attain the drugs from unauthorized sellers in the streets (Congress, 2019). Opioids are used for pain relief, and thus, the highest number of the population cannot stay without them. The sellers on the roads do not have the correct measurements of the drugs that a patient should take which increases the incidences of drug abuse.

Another negative consequence that may arise if the bill is passed is that the future generation will be ruined since most of the people affected by the issue of substance abuse include the younger generation (Klein & Pearson, 2019).They will be highly involved in illicit drug abuse as a way of solving their problems, more so those suffering from neurological and psychiatric conditions like stress and depression. The fact that they will not have the confidence to go to professional caregivers in fear of disclosing their information will lure them into using street drugs which are even cheaper than the prescribed medications.


The bill should give patients the freedom to make their own medical decisions such as who to share their medical information with and what information they feel to disclose. This is according to the current existing federal regulations (Klein & Pearson, 2019). As a result, patients may not be discouraged from visiting the hospitals which may result in more adverse impacts than the current situation.

The bill should also propose training and education to the public addressing them on the importance of providing their information to healthcare providers and health insurance for it to achieve its expected (Klein & Pearson, 2019). Thus, the patients may willingly disclose their medical information without any form of discouragement. Moreover, the health insurance plan should also enforce laws based on the confidentiality of patients' information by the health care providers to maintain their dignity.

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