How The Federal Government Is Responding To America’s Opioid Crisis?

How The Federal Government Is Responding To America's Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis was one of the biggest news stories in the United States… Back in 2015. We are now seven years on from the point where people were identifying it. Have things gotten better or worse? Well, all you have to do is take a walk down a street in San Francisco to know the answer to that question. Things have gotten unequivocally bad.

But what does that mean? How did we get here? And what is the government doing about it? There is a myth in American culture of “the government that does not intervene”. But the government is the will of the people. If the government cannot intervene, the people can’t.

So, let’s take this step by step.

The Opioid Crisis in a Nutshell

It started, as most problems in the United States do, with corporate greed. Pharmaceutical companies began to produce mass amounts of opioids. This process actually began in the 1990s, when the government gave these companies a blank check for medical supplies.

The pharmaceutical companies in question had a clever idea: Opioids are easy to make and highly habit-forming. Why not distribute them to the public and create reliable customers?

And indeed, that is what happened for a while. The only pain medication hospitals were supplied with were these powerful opioids, like Vicodin and OxyContin. As a result, even mild symptoms of pain were prescribed these medicines, as many hospitals had nothing else.

This is cutting out a lot of details, but that is basically how we got here. So, where are we?

How Bad Things Are

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms And Depression


In 2019, 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Currently, around 130 people dies per day of overdoses. This is to say nothing of the deaths through diabetes (opioids are known to screw up insulin production), HIV (from sharing needles used to inject heroin, a popular opioid), or violence related to opioids (since so many opioids are dealt through criminality).

Essentially, tens of thousands of people are dying every year. Hundreds of thousands of people are addicted or at risk of becoming addicted. And all of this is preventable.

On top of this, people who suffer from opioid addiction tend to end up homeless and suffering from chronic illness. This creates another layer to the public health situation, as it means that you have people walking around with basically no immune system for disease to incubate in.

These people also tend to not be able to hold down a job. They get pennies from begging, all of which they spend on drugs to keep themselves from suffering horrible withdrawal symptoms.

The worst part is that it can happen to anyone. A broken foot can be prescribed OxyContin, and OxyContin can become habit-forming in just a few uses. That can create a downward spiral that leads to using more and more until finally turning to heroin and ending up on the streets.

What is the Government Doing About It?

The government has had a hard time doing anything about the opioid crisis. To begin with, it has had trouble acknowledging that there is an opioid crisis in the first place.

It took until 2019 for the Department of Health and Human Services to be directed to address the opioid crisis. This is an incredibly late response to what was obviously a problem for the last 20 years. How many thousands died, and thousands more got addicted, in those 20 years?

If there is a silver lining to this situation it is that there are some particular actions you can see the DHHS taking to address the crisis now that it has gotten permission to act.

1. Offering Alternatives to Opioids

This is probably the most important thing they are doing. This means offering painkillers that are lower in power, but more appropriate to most needs. It is hard to get these though.

2. Making Detox Drugs Easy to Get

A big part of kicking an opioid habit that has already started is detoxing. This is the only path to recovery for people who have spent years with their bodies malfunctioning due to opioids. The DHHS has made it far easier to get the medications that help survive violent detox symptoms.

3. Helping People with Overdoses

Many opioid overdoses happen because once someone overdoses, the people around them do not know what to do. If they take them to a hospital, there is a chance that they get arrested for possession of drugs. The person overdosing might even lead the police to other opioid users.

The DHHS provides treatment for overdoses that do not lead to a police crackdown.

4. Giving Advice and Counseling on the Matter

It is hard to overstate how valuable information is. Many people with opioid addictions have little access to the internet, and even less access to information about what they are going through.

Chances are, they are getting their knowledge on their situation from drug dealers and other addicts. This means that their primary sources of information are people who have a financial interest in keeping them in that situation. The DHHS is working to help change that.


Ocean Recovery claims that there is a stigma against drug addiction in the United States. The opioid crisis proves that. When the government saw a problem, it did not act to restrict the pharmaceutical companies that were basically pushing these drugs onto people.

It did not open up a public program to give people options other than highly addictive painkillers as medications. It barely even recognized that these addictions were the result of a lack of options. Instead, it was assumed that the people who were addicted just “made bad choices”.

But nobody chooses to be addicted. In fact, many people do not even get a choice in what painkillers they are prescribed. Luckily, the corrupt and ineffectual congress of the United States did not hold the issue captive forever, and a more responsible governmental body was able to step in and start doing something about it eventually. It just took 20 years and thousands dead.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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