Addressing the Opioid Crisis: Innovative Strategies for Prevention and Treatment


The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that affects every part of our society. From individuals and families to communities and states, the toll it takes on our nation is devastating. In 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency—and in response, we’ve taken action to address this crisis from all angles. We’re working to expand access to treatment programs, increase prevention efforts (like educational curricula and media campaigns), and improve data collection for better tracking outcomes over time.

Opioid use disorder is a public health crisis.

Opioid use disorder is a public health crisis. The increase in opioid-related deaths has been so drastic that it’s comparable to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s; it’s now killing more people every year than car accidents do. In 2016 alone, 42,249 Americans died from an overdose involving at least one prescription drug (including opioids), and 20 percent of those deaths involved heroin or fentanyl–drugs that can be even more dangerous than prescription painkillers because they’re unregulated and therefore often laced with dangerous additives like fentanyl.

To address this crisis, we need innovative strategies for prevention and treatment–and that begins with understanding why people are misusing opioids in the first place.

The impact of the opioid epidemic on individuals, families, and communities is devastating.

The impact of the opioid epidemic on individuals, families, and communities is devastating.

  • Individuals: The loss of life due to overdose has been staggering–more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017 alone. This number includes both prescription drugs and illicit substances such as heroin and fentanyl (which can be 50 times more potent than heroin).
  • Families: The toll on family members left behind after a loved one dies from an accidental overdose can be profound; many suffer from grief and depression while also facing financial hardships in caring for their children or other dependents who may have been orphaned by addiction.
  • Society: Communities are seeing increased costs related to law enforcement activities related to drug use/trafficking arrests; healthcare expenses related to treating diseases associated with substance abuse; child welfare services for children whose parents struggle with addiction; homelessness caused by lack of access to affordable housing options when someone loses their job due to felony convictions related directly or indirectly through substance abuse disorders


The opioid crisis is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. It’s clear that we need to do more to address this issue and make sure our citizens are safe from the devastating effects of addiction. The good news is that there are many innovative strategies being explored at the local, state, and federal level–and we think they can help us win this battle against opioids once and for all!

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