The opioid problem has been plaguing the United States for quite a while now, and older people (aged 65 and older) are thought to be the most vulnerable demographics when it comes to opioid abuse and suffering from opioid use disorder.
Lack of quality research on the subject has been cited as one of the main reasons why the country has not been able to treat and prevent opioid abuse among the older population in any effective manner.
A recent research project in "Opioid Abuse in the Elderly" conducted by the Everest Foundation Scholar Dr. Fecowycz at Larkin University, FL, is expected to provide valuable insights into the problem.
Subsequently, it is hoped that the findings from the current research will significantly aid the prevention and treatment of opioid abuse among the elderly population.
Dr. Fecowycz's research has been sponsored by The Everest Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing medical education and research in the United States and elsewhere.
Opioid Problem in the United States
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data, more than 10 million people misused prescription opioids in the last year alone, and opioid overdoses took as many as 70,630 lives in 2019.
The CDC traces back the roots of the recent opioid crisis/epidemic in the United States to the late 1990s when pharma companies assured the medical fraternity that opioid pain relievers do not carry risks of addiction. Subsequently, medical practitioners started to prescribe opioid drugs at a greater rate than ever before.
This, however, led to widespread misuse and abuse of both prescription opioids and non-prescription illicit opioids such as fentanyl and heroin. In the meantime, it was found that prescription pain-relieving opioids declared safe by pharma companies could be highly addictive.
The problem continued to escalate at an alarming rate until, in 2017, HHS was forced to declare opioid abuse as a public health emergency and announced implementing a five-point strategy to fight the opioid issue.
However, as the figures mentioned above from recent years suggest, the country has failed to combat the opioid abuse crisis- so much so that it has reached an epidemic state.
The Importance of Dr. Fecowycz's Research
Although we are still not privy to all the findings of Dr. Fecowycz's research, it has been known that the research has been able to spell out all the adverse effects (cognitive impairment, sedation, constipation, falls and fractures, and more) as well as the risk factors (depression, alcohol use disorder, comorbid medical conditions, acute pain) associated with opioid abuse in the elderly.
Currently, treatment of opioid user disorder chiefly consists of maintenance therapy and acute detoxification. However, neither has proven to be effective in the long run.
The Everest Foundation
The Everest Foundation is famous among the country's medical industry for its numerous medical research and education contributions. Apart from assisting graduate medical education in many of the country's top medical schools, the organization has also funded and assisted cutting-edge research in the medical field, including 3D printing, veteran affairs, organ transplant, spinal cord injury, and many more.
According to Dr. Michael Everest and his wife Agata Everest, the founders of the non-profit, the goal and aspiration of the organization is to stay at the forefront of how medicine, through technology and innovation, impacts society and the world at large.