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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

America’s Drug Crisis

Volunteering at the Tower Entrance of Susquehanna Health had always been a highlight of my Monday late-afternoons. When I stop to consider why, I realize my appreciation for floor-to-ceilings windows that allow streams of sunlight to permeate across the pale floor, and the impressive expanse of the desk I was seated at, may be a factor. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the location allowed me to appreciate the amount of effort that goes into ensuring a hospital runs smoothly, and that this running smoothly is immensely important, because anything could be happening in the world—anything at all—but a hospital couldn’t care less, because it has lives to save.
The atmosphere had always been calm, with the occasional annoyance a patient’s relatives directed at me due to the fact that the location of the patient would not show up in the system. One evening in particular, however, challenged my expected tranquility at the desk: one of the security guards had found a man in the parking lot, face down. Paramedics acted quickly, and I observed a stream of people running into the parking lot. Once they carried the man inside, rumors began about the case, and one thing was certain: he had overdosed.
The man in question survived, but from overhearing some of my colleagues in discussion, I found out that they confirmed such incidents had happened before; they suspected the mentality behind people overdosing near a hospital: in case they do overdose, they have a higher chance of being saved if they’re near a hospital.
It struck me in that moment how serious the drug and opioid crisis is in America. In 2013 (the most recent year for NSDUH survey results), a reported 9.4 percent of the population had used an illicit drug in the previous month. The United States itself holds and uses a majority of the world’s collective use of drugs. Presidents themselves have seen what a problem drug usage is. Former President Obama’s first mention of healthcare in his final State of the Union Address was about the crushing problem of drug abuse. In Feb. 2016, Obama announced his plans to invest over $1.1 billion in the next two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities.
Indeed, prescription drugs, opioids, and the widely available nature of drugs is a problem. But how can one limit prescription drugs or prevent a black market of drugs from occurring?
The main problem lies in patient-doctor relationships. Voltaire once said, “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings [of whom] they know nothing.” His words hold true. If doctors take initiatives to know the root of a patients pain, their prescriptions can boast more accuracy and limit the chances of a prescription-overdose-related death.
Many people say a $1 billion or so amount of funding towards effective treatments may help. And funding towards appropriate, cost-effective treatments can be expected to help with the current epidemic, but in order to reduce and not just halt rising death rates, prescribers really need to get to know their patients.