Editorial: PA Needs to Spend Far More Combating the Opioid Epidemic

Jenna Reiber, Reporter

On average, 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses,” according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The opioid epidemic is killing too many Americans and something needs to be done.

Young people are overdosing on opioids such as heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit pills which are laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pains. Illegally-made fentanyl is sold to users in combination with heroin or cocaine, often without the user’s knowledge. Fentanyl, according to the CDC, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, greatly increasing the users chance for overdose.

In the 1990’s there was an increase in opioid prescriptions for pain relief. The CDC reported a resulting increase in overdose deaths during 1999. Prescription opioids can always be a risk, as people can easily become dependent on them to the point of addiction. 

Medically prescribed opioids cause the body to become more resistant to the drug, which forces the person to have to take more of the medication to achieve the desired effect. As people need to take more and more of the opioid, it can cause them to use unsafe amounts and overdose.

In 2018, Pennsylvania had 4,413 opioid overdoses, not including suicides, according to data collected by the Pennsylvania Government’s Office

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the United States spent $78 billion on the opioid epidemic, but only $2.8 billion (3.6 percent of the money) was spent on treatment. Clearly, money is not being spent correctly. 

Out of the $78 billion dollars that is being spent on the opioid epidemic, more of it should be spent on treatment. If more of the money spent on the epidemic was spent on treatment, it would lower the amount of overdoses. 

Lowering the amount of overdoses would allow there to be less yearly deaths due to the opioid epidemic, and it would get more people help on becoming clean all together. 

The Government has to spend most of the $78 billion on criminal justice, treating babies dependent on opioids, greater transmission of infectious diseases, injuries associated with intoxication, and lost productivity. If more money was being spent on treatment, less money would have to be going to all of these other things that are a result of untreated users. 

If treatment was a bigger reciever of all of the money the government spent, all of the other resulting problems would slowly start to decrease. This would be letting the government save more money for better causes and keep spending money for good treatment.

To help prevent opioid overdoses, donate to Overdose Lifeline in order to support victims of this issue. Tell your local government this issue is important to you.