What Is The Best Way To Understand The Opioid Epidemic?
We’ve all heard it repeatedly in the news, on the internet, and every which way we turn. The opioid epidemic has been one of the most prevalent issues in the world in the recent past. Our efforts to understand this growing concern are overshadowed by its complexity. We may even be tempted to write it off as irrelevant to us. However, given its expansive reach, it is becoming increasing hard to avoid it. So how do we really wrap our minds around this issue? What is the first step?
As a first year medical student, I started a podcast series to talk about issues in medicine by bringing together a group of 3-4 of my peers every few weeks for discussion. Just recently, we took on the grand task of trying to dissect the opioid epidemic. After the recording, many thoughts rushed to my mind. I knew that this issue was big. I knew that it was real. And I knew that it was important.
However, I eventually realized that beyond knowing all the statistics and treatment modalities, the first step in trying to understand and manage this issue was to develop the right mindset. This is something that stands with specific importance for current and future medical providers. Opioid use disorder warrants an approach that puts the patient at the center with consideration but without judgment. It is undoubtedly multifaceted, requiring us to attack it from multiple different angles in order to prevent it from escalating. But first and foremost, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the patient and see things from his or her perspective. And what better way to do it than to hear from someone who has passed through the trials and tribulations of opiate addiction.
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