By Amanda Montano

Opioid addiction is at an all-time high and it is one of the biggest problems the American population faces. According to the Fox News article titled, “Trump’s opioid addiction commission lauded by relatives of overdose victims,” 90 people die everyday due to Opioid addiction. The most common way that people become addicted to this kind of drug is by continuing to take prescribed painkillers even after they are not needed anymore. Typically, these drugs are prescribed to individuals with chronic pains or after an invasive surgical procedure. The continuation of these drugs past the point of actually needing them leads to a dependency, thus leading to a crippling addiction. This addiction creates an incredibly high risk of overdose, causing the drug-related death rate to rise exponentially. In response to this alarming phenomenon and the growing addiction crisis, President Trump has created an opioid addiction commission to handle the current epidemic sweeping the nation. To head the committee, President Trump has chosen Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey. Naturally, people who have been personally affected by the Opioid addiction crisis and individuals who have felt the second-hand effects of losing a loved one to addiction are huge supporters of this new committee. These families and friends have high hopes that this commission will be successful and hopefully prevent the crisis from worsening. Chris Christie is claimed to be the ideal candidate to head the committee: “He’s got the drive and determination of a very successful prosecutor, but the heart of an advocate” (Llorente).

In order to implement and see results from this commission, it must focus on preventing the distribution of illegal drugs, enforcing laws and rules, providing treatment to help individuals in need, and recovery and support to prevent relapse episodes. Oftentimes, friends and families of individuals addicted to painkillers seek help and support for the addicted individuals in question, but it is not always offered or easily accessible. One specific case where a family tried to intervene but was unable to is a case where a patient had unfettered access to painkillers, as provided by his doctor. Stated by Fox News, “This family asked their doctor, George Beech, to stop prescribing the pills because they saw their son started to become addicted, but the doctor refused.” They became desperate and sought guidance from pharmacists to help stop the enabling, but they also refused to have a say in stopping the permitting of drugs. Just last year, the doctor who refused to stop prescribing the drugs, George Beech, was arrested. It was later revealed that he prescribed “a staggering 60,000 tablets of Oxycodone to more than two dozen people he never even examined or met” (Llorente). George Beech was not the only doctor conducting these criminal acts. In 2016, 31 other cases were recorded in New Jersey alone. New Jersey has become much stricter about physicians prescribing medications in a legal and ethical way, enforcing stricter policies about doctors recording information and prescribing only the necessary amount of medication for each patient.

For some doctors, the focus has shifted from the well-being of a patient to receiving a hefty sum of money in return for prescribing pills. They overlook the fact that painkillers are not the only treatment and they don’t work for everyone. President Trump has taken initiative and highlighted how much of a problem the Opioid crisis truly is. During a meeting in the White House on Wednesday, both cabinet officials and recovering addicts attended to advocate for the implementation of this commission. “Two recovering addicts, Vanessa Vitolo and AJ Solomon, that attended explained their personal struggles with Opioid addiction” and how they were able to get sober and reshape their lives. Predictably, both of their addictions began with prescribed painkillers and then escalated to heroin.

One idea to prevent addiction to prescription painkillers is to create a medication without an additive factor. This will allow people to use medication as needed in a regulated way. Additionally, providing more thorough and explanatory education about prescription pills and their functions at a younger age would prevent individuals from using Opioids recklessly, disregarding their intended use. By learning more about the dangers of recreational prescription pill usage at an earlier age, children and young adults will grow up with the tools and information needed to stay away from falling victim to the Opioid crisis.