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Group Of Doctors Call For Change In Tackling Opioid Epidemic In The US: Addiction Is Treatable Chronic Medical Condition [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 30, 2017 10:12 AM EDT

The American College of Physicians (ACP) wrote a position paper proposing a shift in the way the opioid epidemic in the U.S. is dealt with. They suggested that the substance use disorder with both illegal and prescription drugs be regarded as a chronic medical condition that can be managed.

The group led by Dr. Nitin S. Damle described the drug problem as a serious public health issue and likened substance use disorders to diabetes and hypertension, which are treatable conditions. They argue that an effective method for tackling the opioid epidemic in the U.S. involves prevention, treatment and recovery through wider measures that the government and individuals will carry out.

In the paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the physicians presented the current approach as one which focuses on punishing and putting away nonviolent drug offenders to jail, perpetuating the stigma associated with substance use disorder. This leaves people with very few options and chances for treatment. They also stressed that a mere 18 percent of the 22.5 million people having drug or alcohol issues in 2014 received help in treating their condition whereas the rates for hypertension, depression and other health problems were much higher.

ACP persuaded their fellow doctors to improve compliance to the clinical guidelines for managing pain with the use of controlled substances. They also recommended that a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program be set up and access to naloxone, a drug used for saving users who had overdosed, be easier for concerned sectors. Expanding health insurance to include mental health issues, training more professionals for strengthening treatment programs were proposed as well, the CBS News reported.

Withdrawal from opioid addiction can be painful, and this leads to even more dependence. It is common to experience muscle aches, tremors, rapid breathing, anxiety, vomiting, salivation, stomach cramps, diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Some medication helps ease the symptoms and it is possible for a person to cut off physical dependence on opioids. However, stressful situations could trigger a relapse, according to WebMD.

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