Opioid Addiction Relief?

In July of this year, journal club discussed the opioid crisis (see July’s Journal Club Review). The discussion focused on changes at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that may have adversely affected the battle against substance abuse. The addiction crisis is a substantial political campaign issue for this year’s Midterm Elections. However, little action has been taken to tackle the problem and ideas for solutions are scarce.

In October 2017, President Trump declared the U.S. Opioid Epidemic a national public health emergency. The  declaration allows the administration, for a 90-day period, to use funds allocated in the Public Health Emergency Fund. The declaration has been renewed three times since, but progress appears to be slow. As reported recently, the number of deaths from opioids (especially synthetic opioids) continue to rise. Critics of the administration, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), accuse the administration of not having a clear, actionable plan with measurable outcomes and are only making empty promises (see Sen. Warren’s Letter to the President from July 2018).

To address this problem in a cohesive and centralized manner, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), along with the Aspen Institute (a think tank organization based in Aspen, CO), announced at the end of July a new public-private partnership called Action Collaborative: Countering the US Opioid Epidemic. This new initiative is comprised of members from 35 different organizations, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, private sector entities, and health care providers. As stated in their press release, the goal of the collaboration is to pull together various stakeholders to share information and identify ways in which the opioid epidemic can be addressed. Since this initiative is new, there isn’t much information on what exactly the collaborative can or will accomplish. However, it is encouraging to see some sort of movement in treating the opioid epidemic.

In the month of September, our social media team will continue to share addiction related content on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We invite you to follow us on social media and look forward to seeing you at our events as we start a new academic year.