The United States and the Opioid Crisis

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

The United States has been plagued with the spread of many different types of drugs, and recreational use is growing. Since 2007, there has been a significant rise in Opioid-related deaths. Opioids include the illegal substance Heroin as well as the legally prescribed substances Oxycodone and Codeine. That is the exact issue with these types of drugs; many of them are legal to obtain and are easily abused because a person can legally have a substantial amount on hand and can refill it in a timely manner. Connecticut has had a large issue with Heroin users. Overdoses were becoming very frequent and laced amounts of the substance afflicted the New England area.

With all these Opioid-related deaths and overdoses, it has been a large financial strain on the government. With the ongoing budget discussions, this has been a topic of the talks. Since 2001, the government has spent over $215 billion on Opioid-related medical care and rehabilitation programs. One of the biggest costs comes from the drug Naloxone, an injected drug used to essentially bring an otherwise dead, overdosed person back to life. The average cost of reviving an OD patient is roughly $30,000. At the high rate that people are overdosing on Heroin and other substances, the cost adds up quite fast. The cost of these injections has caused the expenditures of the government on drug related incidents to double every year for the past five years. This large growth of outgoing money is hitting hard, and the Trump administration has decided to try to stop it. They decided to slash funding for Medicaid and other Healthcare programs and pump $13 billion into new spending to combat the Opioid crisis.

There is somewhat of a moral debate behind this as well. Trump is reallocating a hefty amount to lend a hand to people who are essentially throwing their lives away by choice. I am not saying that drugs do not take over a cognitive part of a person’s mind, but at some point or other, they made the conscious decision to purchase illegal substances or abuse a prescription. Either way, why is our government wasting about $14.5 billion a year on these revival drugs? Yes, everyone deserves a chance to live or rebuild, but how many chances are they going to be given, and at what cost? At $30,000, second chances are quite expensive, so the question remains how can we determine whose life is worth that price tag and whose is not. There is no way to tell; therefore, the bill for OD revival runs so high, the EMTs on site must assume that every life is worth saving. No one has the divine power to determine who is important enough to save, because everyone holds worth in their own way, distinguishable to us or not.

Overall, like any political issue, there is no solid solution and no solution that doesn’t anger at least one group; so, like any good politician, Trump decided to throw even more money at the issue. Mind you, this money is being cut from the budget that is meant to assist in the care of disabled people who cannot work or those who are a part of the Supplemental Security Income system. This seems rather unethical. The government is stripping money from people who are not actively poisoning themselves or bringing themselves to the brink of death and using that money to revive drug-abusing citizens instead. Pushing the moral issues to the side, the Opioid Crisis is costing our government heaps of money every year, and every year, the amount is consistently growing.

Kyle Kalagher is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email