The Issue Of Rising Rate Of Prescription Drug Abuse In America: A Case Of Virginia Beach

Prescription Drug Abuse (PDA) does not discriminate against age, race, sex, nor social status. Although devastating, it is not surprising that this national health crisis has trickled down into the adolescent population. This crisis has plagued our communities, school systems, and work environments, creating drug accessibility to vulnerable populations. Not only has PDA has cost people their lives, it has cost our nation $740 billion annually in crime-related costs, work loss productivity, and healthcare resources. The youth’s golden years are becoming tarnished and tainted, because of this infectious problem. Adolescents are falling prey to prescription drugs that are leading them down a spiraling path of destruction. The future leaders of tomorrow are part of today’s problems. As a nation, we can no longer call for public health emergencies without any follow-up to action; the nation owes it to the public to take accountability and to deliver effective results that will address the national opioid epidemic.

PDA is not an isolated issue that can be resolved at a personal level, it requires the unison of different public and private sectors to ease this burden. The National Survey on Drug Health reports that there were 11. 8 million opioid misusers in the United States (U. S. ) aged 12 or older. They also report that 3. 6% of adolescents (891, 000 adolescents) between the ages of 12 and 17 misused opioids. In 2018, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the most recent opioid statistics which further validates the opioid crisis. In 2016, an average of 116 people died everyday from overdosing on opioids, totaling 42, 249 people; 2. 1 million people tried opioids for the very first time and another 2. 1 million people actually suffered from an opioid disorder; 170, 000 people also tried heroin for the first time. These alarming statistics symbolizes America’s daunting opioid crisis.

The trend of opioid misuse/abuse is continuing at a fast pace that has yet to be controlled. The trends in the adolescent population indicates the urgency to change healthcare practices, parental habits, and cultural influences. Problem Description In order to properly address the problem of PDA in the U. S. , the problem has to be stopped before it even begins. Research has found that adults who abuse prescription medications typically develop this hazardous habit during their adolescent years, which usually transpires into adulthood addiction. Adolescents who misuse prescription drugs threaten their well-being and opens the Pandora’s box to other health and social issues that may arise. Focusing on PDA in adolescence creates a starting point in addressing the national opioid crisis.

Adolescents are developing into young adults who are impacting today’s society and are paving the way for younger generations. It is important to understand the developmental period of adolescents to effectively educate and treat this maturing population. By understanding these developmental changes parents, school administrators, healthcare professionals, law enforcers, and legislators can attempt to mitigate adolescents risks of misusing/abusing prescription drugs. Adolescence is a developmental period between childhood and adulthood, dedicated to physical, neurological, psychological, and social maturation. During this rapid phase of human development, the biologic pace of maturity exceeds the psychosocial pace, which is both influenced by the adolescent and their surrounding environment. These developmental changes are shaping the adolescent’s knowledge, skill, and emotional development, becoming the blueprint of their adult years. All of these distinct characteristics impacts adolescents health status, access to healthcare, and health perception. More specifically, an adolescent’s peers, culture, upbringing, neighborhood characteristics, and developmental transition impacts their health behaviors and health decisions.

Adolescents have a fearless mentality; they either believe they are untouchable or have plenty of time for redemption. Their cognitive skills are still developing, contributing to their poor health literacy, poor decision-making, and poor judgment. All of these factors manipulates adolescents obliviousness to dangers, risks, and consequences. Unfortunately, adolescents are more likely to assume and attempt rather than take precaution and educate themselves. There is a common belief that adolescents are generally healthy. In actuality they are particularly vulnerable to preventable health issues that may include injuries, accidents, suicide, pregnancy-related complications, and other preventable illnesses/conditions. The WHO (2018) also emphasize that many serious complications that emerge in adulthood are deep-rooted in adolescence. It is clinically appropriate to add PDA to this list of preventable issues. Adolescents’ vulnerability has predisposed them to the misuse of prescription medications. When adolescents misuse/abuse prescription medications, the opened Pandora’s box may lead to a preventable health issue, criminal record, hospitalization, or educational interruption. Special consideration should be given to this vulnerable population. Adolescents are in need of primary prevention measures, candid education, healthy support systems, and positive guidance in order to create a safety net for their vulnerabilities.

Community Diagnosis

Risk of prescription drug abuse among Virginia Beach adolescents, indicated in the rate of Emergency Department (ED) visits for opioid overdose, is caused by drug availability, lack of awareness, undiagnosed mental health problems, peer substance use, and peer rejection, but is mediated by increased awareness, parental involvement, safe-guarding medications, and prescription drug monitoring given that prevention education, parental monitoring, effective communication, and routine screenings moderate the causes and that adolescent development, adolescent culture, parental influence, and neighborhoods that have high social disorganization exist prior to the causes.

Community Assessment

In 2016, former Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that State Health Commissioner Marisa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP declared a public health emergency for the Virginia opioid addiction crisis. This emergency was triggered by the increasing number of opioid overdoses and Carfentanil (a highly potent synthetic opioid) which had made its way to the state of Virginia. The standing order for Naloxone was the declaration’s initial intervention, but Governor McAuliffe urged Virginians to continue the fight with their own efforts. At that time, Governor McAuliffe believed Dr. Levine’s declaration of public health emergency was fundamental for Virginia to begin the fight against the opioid addiction crisis. Dr. Levine’s declaration called for awareness, accountability, and action across the state of Virginia. This declaration was only the beginning; the unison among the public, healthcare professionals, and stakeholders are vital to overcoming this healthcare crisis. Virginia Beach Demographics Virginia is divided into eight different regions: Central, Eastern, Hampton Roads, Northern, Southside, Southwest, Valley, and West Central.

The City of Virginia Beach, the area of focus for this community health assessment, is located in the Hampton Roads region. Hampton Roads is marked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, which is the largest estuary in the U. S. Located on the southeastern corner of Virginia, Hampton Roads stretches approximately 2, 907 square miles, encompassing 16 different jurisdictions. Virginia Beach covers 307 square miles, which includes 248 square miles of land and 59 square miles of water. The city experiences all four seasons and the climate is characterized as humid-subtropical, meaning the summers are hot and humid while the winters are cool. The unique city of Virginia Beach is known for its’ oceanfront, wildlife preserves and parks, urban amenities, cultural attractions, military stations, and diverse neighborhoods. “Named one of America’s ’50 Best Cities to Live’ by 24/7 Wall Street, Virginia Beach is internationally recognized as one of the best places to live, work, and do business”. Virginia Beach is home to over 450, 000 residents, making it the largest city in Virginia and the 39th largest city in the U. S. Approximately 230, 269 Virginia Beach residents are female and 222, 333 residents are male. In Virginia, the period of adolescence ranges between the ages of 10 and 24. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, in 2016 adolescents accounted for 20% of Virginia Beach’s population, totaling 88, 942 adolescents; out of this estimate, 46, 356 adolescents were male and 42, 586 were female. The top three races of Virginia Beach residents are white, black, and Asian. In 2016, 70% of Virginia Beach residents were white, 21. 5% were black, and only 8% were Asian. In 2010, the U. S. Census Bureau reported that Virginia Beach’s population per square mile was 1, 758. 9.

Virginia Beach’s demographics speaks volumes on the city’s diversity; this populous city is home to people of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and age groups. Adolescents accounting for 20% of Virginia Beach’s population is pretty significant. Being that adolescents are considered a vulnerable population, the community has to ensure they are protecting their adolescents from vulnerabilities that may pose a threat to their health, safety, and/or education. Analyzing the national opioid statistics and Virginia’s statistics will provide insight on the severity of the opioid crisis.

Overall, Virginia Beach is a populous, prosperous community filled with much promise. Virginia Beach has numerous resources in place to address PDA among adolescents. The specific strengths of Virginia Beach include their educational system, healthcare services, and city services. The community’s strengths exposes their gaps in care; most of the services offered are acute-care services that are treating the existing substance abuse issues. There should be a shift in care to accommodate the lack of preventative services in addressing PDA among adolescents. Also, the community has more resources in place for older-aged adolescents compared to younger adolescents, which leaves younger adolescents more vulnerable.

18 March 2020
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now