Sample Nursing Essay Paper on Controlling the Opioid Crisis in Florida

Controlling the Opioid Crisis in Florida

The opioid crisis has been prevalent in the United States for the past decade, with Florida being one of the most affected. Opioid overdose has reached alarming levels in Florida; this is ravaging families and the state’s public health system. Sustainable measures need to be implemented to contain the prevalence of the crisis in this region.

            Statistics from the CDC demonstrate the prevalence of opioid usage in Florida and indicate an abnormal increase in fatalities due to drug overdose. The number of deaths related to drug overdose rose by 46.3% from 2015 to 2016 (Christie et al., 2017). Such a rapid rise places a huge burden on the public health system, thus forcing the state to use all available measures to mitigate the effects on its citizens. In mid-2017, Florida’s governor officially declared a state of emergency in response to opioid addiction in the state. This reflects the nature of the epidemic; the declaration of a state of emergency by a state government is a measure only in case of national disaster or imminent danger. An emergency helps delay standard protocols temporarily to fund and provide rapid response to the disaster in question.

The declaration of Florida’s opioid crisis as a public health emergency has enabled the state government to access $50 million in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. While $50 million may appear like a substantial sum to allocate to such a disaster, it’s insufficient when compared to the statistics released by Child Welfare League of America, which highlights that healthcare costs associated with opioid overdose in Florida amounted to over $1 billion in 2015 (Christie et al., 2017). This colossal sum makes clear the state government’s inability to react to the deadly public health crisis. State resources like ambulances and emergency medical teams, hospitals, healthcare workers, treatment centers, police, and morgues are burdened by the high rates of opioid abuse in the civilian population. Their ability to remedy the fallout is significantly handicapped, as is felt by the families and communities affected directly and indirectly. Indeed, the opioid crisis is increasing the number of children placed under the care of the state due to addicted parents who cannot cater to their needs (Nelson, Juurlink, N., & Perrone, 2015). Further, Nelson, Juurlink, and Perrone (2015) state that it is negatively affecting the workforce since productive adults are now becoming dependent on state services. Overall, the opioid crisis is placing a strain on Florida’s resources and it is easy to see why the state declared a state of emergency.   

The opioid crisis shows that Florida is in need of a sustainable solution. The following paper will propose the implementation of a policy termed as Opioid Alleviation Initiative (OIA) that targets prevention of nonmedical use of prescription drugs and the reinvention of medicinal production. OIA will enable Florida to permanent the issue of opioid abuse and overdose.

Identification of the selected elected official and position

The leader I deem suitable for this presentation is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is the legislator for Southeast Florida (zip code 33029). She is familiar with the rising threat that the opioid crisis poses to the state. Wasserman also seeking the approval of reform policies to contain the crisis. Therefore, she is likely to offer great support to the implementation of the Opioid Alleviation Initiative (OIA). The legislator has also shown sympathy for those whose loved ones have been directly and indirectly affected by the epidemic. She believes that being raised in a set up whereby people are addicted to drugs is a hard and painful experience. Wasserman makes such an assertation as she has first-hand experience with people struggling with drug addiction. On that note, it is likely that she will endorse the proposed policy and partner with stakeholder in the deployment of the measures to mitigate the opioid issue in Florida.   

The rationale for the selection

Wasserman is the right choice since she has been involved with such initiatives in the past. She will critically analyze the policy and determine why it should be approved. The policy of controlling opioid use in the region matches her idea of promoting the wellbeing of citizens in Southeast Florida. She has deep insight into the issue and the extent to which it has affected her community. Therefore, she will be a valuable resource to the implementation of the policy. Similar to the policy, her objectives are clear and straightforward; to alleviate the problem of opioid overuse and overdose in Florida.  

The Opioid Alleviation Initiative (OIA) Policy

Prevention of Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs

All healthcare professionals will take part in identifying and mitigating the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

Healthcare Professionals. Healthcare professionals are in a unique position to recognize the nonmedical use of prescription medications. They can proactively prevent the escalation of a patient’s abusive nature to a disorder related to substance use. Through appropriate communication about drugs, nurses and doctors in Florida can assist their patients in acknowledging whether a problem is present, facilitate or refer them to suitable intervention, and set recovery objectives (Kolodny, 2015). Evidence-based screening tools can be used during regular medical visits to detect the non-medical use of prescription drugs. Doctors and nurses should also note any unaccounted changes in the amount of medication a patient intakes, making note of unscheduled refill requests (Kluge, 2010). Clinicians should be aware of the fact that those abusing prescription medications may shift from one provider to another in an effort to acquire several prescriptions of the drug they need.

            Electronic databases run by the state and Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) – used to trace the prescribing and issuing of regulated prescription drugs to patients – are also key tools for mitigating and identifying the misuse of prescription drugs. While the effects of these initiatives are mixed, the application of PDMPs in some states has been related to decreased cases of opioid prescription and misuse (Kolodny, 2015). Therefore, Florida should make use of such tools.

            In 2015, the federal government deployed a program aimed towards decreasing cases of opioid abuse and overdose, partly by promoting responsible and more cautious prescription of medicines containing opioids. To match this initiative, the CDC rereleased the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain as a clinical benchmark for balancing the advantages and drawbacks of chronic opioid intervention. Further, Trump’s regime created the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in 2017, which outlined numerous priority sectors aimed at enhancing the prevention and remediation of opioid addiction (Christie et al., 2017). Florida State should overlap its efforts with that of the federal government to ensure the epidemic is addressed in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.  Collaborating with the Federal government to decrease opioid misuse and overdose is critical to safeguarding the well-being of Floridians. It must be understood that preventing the non-medical usage of prescription drugs is a key part of patient care (Christie et al., 2017). Healthcare professionals should balance the actual medical needs of patients with the risk of abuse and associated hazards.

Pharmacists. Pharmacists can assist patients in comprehending instructions for taking their medicines as well as how they work to resolve their medical issue. Additionally, by being mindful of false prescriptions or alterations, pharmacists can act as the first line of defense in identifying problematic trends in the use of prescription drugs (Thurston, 2017). Pharmacies should establish hotlines to warn other pharmacies in Florida when they come across a false prescription. Together with healthcare professionals, pharmacists can utilize PDMPs to help trace patterns associated to opioid abuse in Floridians.  

The Reinvention of Medicinal Production

Medication Regulation and Formulation. Producers of prescription drugs should continue working on the formulation of novel opioid drugs. In particular, they should seek Abuse-Deterrent Formulations (ADF), developed to prevent patients from misusing them through injection or snorting (Thurston, 2017). Some approaches that manufacturers could consider are: (1) chemical or physical barriers that mitigate the improper intake of medication through unadvised channels, (2) formulations that produce an antagonist (which will act to counteract the drug’s impact) in case of manipulation, (3) aversive remedies that cause unpleasant sensations if taken inappropriately, (4) delivery frameworks like implants and sustained release tablets that gradually disperse the drug over certain periods, (5) molecular compositions that introduce a chemical component to render it inactive if taken inappropriately. Such measures will help mitigate opioid misuse in Florida.

            . Since ADF opioids have demonstrated to be effective in reducing opioid medications prescriptions, they should be released to the markets (Thurston, 2017). The FDA should facilitate the creation of ADF stimulants. The appropriate re-classification of opioids can also help mitigate the crisis. The Drug Enforcement Administration changed the classification of hydrocodone products from schedule II to the more stringent schedule III, resulting in a reduction of hydrocodone prescriptions that did not lead to any rise in the prescription of other opioids (Thurston, 2017). The state of Florida should therefore carefully reconsider its drug regulatory framework to control the consumption of opioids.

Production of Safer Medications. Developing non-addictive and efficacious pain medication should be a key public health priority. An increasing percentage of elderly and injured military service workers in the US population add to the need for developing novel treatments. Scientists are exploring substitute intervention methods that target different signaling systems like the endocannabinoid system, which is also involved in alleviating pain (Traynor, 2016). More research should be conducted to better understand the effective management of chronic pain. The variables that predispose some individuals to substance use disorders should be applied in the prescription of drugs. Some mechanism must also be established to disallow the non-medical use of prescription drugs. Such measures are key to averting the opioid epidemic in Florida and across the nation.  

             The paper has discussed the opioid crisis in Florida and the policy that can be used to control the problem. The declaration of Florida’s opioid crisis as a public health emergency demonstrates its severe nature. It is placing a huge burden on the state’s public health system due to its direct and indirect effects on families and communities. To avert the opioid crisis, Florida should the Opioid Alleviation Initiative (OIA). In this policy all healthcare professionals will take part in identifying and mitigating the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Secondly, producers of prescription drugs should continue working on the formulation of novel opioid drugs. Further, developing non-addictive and efficacious pain medication should be a key public health priority. The adoption of such measures will help in the fight against opioid misuse and overdose in Florida and avert the current public health crisis. Whereas the problem cannot be solved instantly, the policy will help to avert the opioid crisis in the long run.


Christie, C., Baker, C., Cooper, R., Kennedy, P. J., Madras, B., & Bondi, P. (2017). The president’s commission on combating drug addiction and the opioid crisis. Washington, DC, US Government Printing Office, Nov1.

Kluger, J. (2010). The new drug crisis; addiction by prescription. Time176(11), 46-49.

Kolodny, A., Courtwright, D. T., Hwang, C. S., Kreiner, P., Eadie, J. L., Clark, T. W., & Alexander, G. C. (2015). The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: A public health approach to an epidemic of addiction. Annual Review of Public Health36, 559-574.

Nelson, L. S., Juurlink, D. N., & Perrone, J. (2015). Addressing the opioid epidemic. Jama314(14), 1453-1454.

Thurston, T. A. (2017). Medicaid expansion and the opioid epidemic: Medicaid’s role in a growing crisis. Tennessee Medicine E-Journal3(2), 14.

Traynor, K. (2016). Experts weigh minimum naloxone dose as opioid crisis evolves. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 73 (23), 1892-1894.