The United States surgeon general wants a collective effort to curb opioid addiction by pressuring physicians to write fewer prescriptions. Communities are also urged to expand treatment for addiction and to start a health campaign which is just as important as the war on smoking.
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy held a speech in front of over 400 people at the St Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston to try and persuade doctors, families, and policymakers to think of strategies and treatment options for the opioid epidemic that killed over 28,000 in the United States, in 2014 – the highest yearly number on record.
Dr. Murthy said he’s seen the crisis at large taking it’s tall on people across America. There is some good news too, though.
Overall, drugs such as Percocet and Oxycodone have dropped in prescriptions by 32 percent. And New Jersey veterans are not inclined to use opioid prescriptions, with only 5 percent being prescribed addictive painkillers.
Speaking from personal experience, the surgeon general pointed out he thought he would spend most of his career treating people with diabetes, infections, and cancer complications. He would have never imagined that he would spend most of his time thinking about opioid abuse.
He met with colleagues before taking the oath in the capital, in December 2014. They urged him to do something about the American addiction crisis and he promised he would.
His campaign comprises a few steps to prevent substance abuse. Physicians should try to find alternatives to opioid prescription and start with lower doses. They should not prescribe the opioids for more than seven days, instead of a thirty-day prescription – as it is currently customary.
If a patient needs opioids for a longer time, physicians should look out for abuse and refer the patient to a pain specialist.
He then showed how easy Narcan, is to administer. Narcan is an opioid antidote, which is effective in most cases of overdose.
Murthy and other officials have called on the public to look at addiction from a disease of the brain perspective, rather than a moral failure. This flawed interpretation prevents many from seeking help.
In New Jersey only, heroin deaths are up 160 percent since 2010, with over 1,200 overdoses leading to death in 2016 alone.
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