Public Health Advocacy Campaign

Population Health Issue and the Affected Population

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Prescription drug abuse, especially of opioid overdose is one of the prevalent public health problems in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the country is facing an epidemic because of the numerous deaths that occur out of opioid overdose as well as drug abuse. The government, media, and public health advocates acknowledge the seriousness of the challenge, revealing the need for help and workable intervention. While anyone could be at risk of being affected, some populations are more vulnerable than others. Among the most affected groups are teenagers who are in danger of drug experimentation, peer pressure, and addictive tendencies. In fact, the youth make up the highest percentage of the individuals suffering from the issues of drug abuse. Other groups that are at risk include those with previous substance addictions, access to prescription drugs, and pre-existing psychiatric conditions. The risk increases because of the reality that the drugs are readily available as prescriptions.

Scholarly Evidence

Ferri et al. (2011) investigated the role of mass media campaigns targeted to behavior change in drug abuse problems. While the evidence of effectiveness is inadequate, the theory behind such advocacy campaigns reveals their potential success. The media works by changing the underlying beliefs of the individuals, making them effective in behavior change campaigns. Volkow,  Frieden, Hyde, and Cha (2014) proposed the second health advocacy campaign as implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which calls for the recruitment and use of medication-assisted therapies to intervene in those already affected by the problem. The campaign is formulated to accommodate those individuals who are already addicted so that they become part of the program as they get help.

The Attributes of Effectiveness

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The critical aspect of the first campaign is the behavior change element. The model is based on theories such as the health belief model and the theory of planned behavior. The intervention is aimed at affecting the behavior of the individual to prevent addiction. It is more effective to prevent the health problem before it is initiated. The primary attribute of effectiveness in the second health advocacy campaign conforms to the intervention. Proper prescription and monitoring are at the core of success in the advocacy campaign. Healthcare providers, including nurses, can implement the interventions by targeting individuals who are already addicted. In fact, the interventions have proved to be safe and cost-effective to the affected populations.

A Plan for a Health Advocacy Campaign

Research evidence shows that the current policy for intervening in drug abuse, including prescription drugs is ineffective. The policy efforts target control of distribution and use of the illegal substances. As a result, the prevailing efforts only target illegal drugs, leaving room for the continued abuse of the legal drugs such as opioid. A majority of the young people who become addicted to the drugs do so because of their availability. Drugs are grouped for legalization or decriminalization based on their potential for addiction.  Therefore, it is important to develop a policy that is aimed at preventing addiction and supporting those who are already addicted.

A Description of the Public Health Issue and Proposed Policy Solution

Policy-makers should implement interventions targeting the two levels of the problem. Some individuals are already affected by issues related to drugs while others are at the risk of being addicted. Therefore, the government should implement a new policy aimed at addressing the problem from the two levels. It should combine the effective aspects of the two advocacy campaigns. It should implement measures to identify those at risk and support behavior changes for those who are addicted, and hence initiate effective treatment. The policy will be the most effective effort to deal with the epidemic in the country.

Specific Objectives for the Policy

  1. To prevent opioid addiction among the most at-risk populations in the country.
  2. To support the healing process for the individuals affected by opioid addiction by using effective interventions.
  3. To create a more effective policy for addressing the opioid epidemic in the country.

Evidence to Support the Proposed Campaign

The opioid addiction problem in the country is alarming, and the current interventions cannot effectively address it. Evidence from the two articles reveals that intervention targeting prevention and intervention after the addiction are the most effective. They can work effectively by preventing the problem before it occurs as well as targeting the behavior of the at-risk individuals (Ferri et al., 2011). The intervention is effective in supporting those who are already affected by the disease. Thousands of individuals are already suffering from the effects of the addiction (Volkow et al., 2014). These people will continue to suffer and risk death if the government does not support their healing. Therefore, the two-pronged policy is critical in the public health arena in the United States. The efforts will bring together various stakeholders, including the government, media, educators, and the healthcare providers in implementing the intervention. Indeed, the approach differs from the current efforts that are implemented by different players in isolation.

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