In the United States alone, drug abuse overdose kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. Doctors appeal to the authorities to handle the epidemic as a medical emergency. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 91 people died every day because of opioid overdose. In 2015, 52,000 died because of a drug overdose.
In a study of the American College of Physicians (ACP), it shows drug abuse increased over the years. It calls for the awareness of the medical community and other agencies to handle the situation as an epidemic.
Drug addiction affects twenty-two million Americans
The President of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Nitin S. Damle said that “Twenty-two million people need treatment.” Out of those affected, “a large percentage of people aren’t getting treatment,” he added. The doctor said the statement in an interview with ABC News.
Pertaining to a CDC study, he added that “We want to focus the spotlight on that.”
“Not a moral disorder”
Furthermore, ACP recommends that the medical community must consider drug addiction as a chronic disease. As such, the condition needs an on-going treatment and not as a “moral disorder or character defect.”
According to CDC studies, 18% of people with drug addiction get a proper treatment. A small number compare to the 75% of people treated with the chronic disease like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Treatment versus punishment
The study pointed out how important to have the attention focus on the treatment. Presently, the medical community handles drug abuse treatment as punishment.
It recommends a stricter regulation of opioid prescriptions. For Damle, doctors can make a big impact in fighting drug abuse when it comes to limiting prescriptions. He said that doctors can check databases to make sure patients are not prescribed any other opioids.
Also, it suggests added training in the medical community to handle drug addiction. It also suggests more choices for patients to get mental health medication.
Moreover, the ACP pushed for policies about the reduced prison sentenced and for non-violent drug offenders. For the study, the drug offenders should also receive an option to receive treatment.
Damle said, “We need to have more treatment programs and we need to have more funding in this area. It’s a heavy societal burden it really endangers families and not just individuals.”
The Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, Dr. Caleb Alexander welcomed the news. He said that the new study will shed a new light for people suffering because of drug addiction. He said, “Millions of Americans need treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem yet don’t receive.”
“There is a huge gap between the need for these services and their delivery. This is all the more shocking because it’s a good investment”. He continued. The doctor claim that “For every dollar invested in drug prevention and treatment, we save money as a society –- we can either pay for it now or pay for it later.”
Alexander also pointed out how the study emphasized on the treatment. He said, “When it comes to opioids, we should be talking about addiction, not abuse.” He also pointed out that “Addiction is a disease, abuse is a behavior.”