Washington, D.C. — The opioid crisis is primarily a public health issue, but it presents additional complex challenges for foreign policy, border security, criminal justice, and racial equity. A new report from the Center for American Progress provides government officials and policymakers with actionable and evidence-based recommendations to mitigate the opioid epidemic.
The report also identifies three overarching solutions to the crisis: 1) addressing the root causes of drug use, 2) expanding access to treatment and harm reduction strategies, and 3) reducing the supply of illicit opioids entering the United States. These solutions come as estimates show that more than a million additional people in North America are expected to die from opioid overdose by the end of the decade.
Moreover, the overdose crisis is responsible for an estimated $1 trillion in annual costs to the U.S. health care and criminal justice systems, and lost productivity from premature deaths. More than 234,000 people died in the United States due to opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2012. Illicit opioid use accounted for 46 percent of these deaths, while overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased by more than four times during this period. In 2022 alone, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses—the leading cause of injury mortality in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle accidents and gun violence. Of these deaths, more than 83,000 involved opioids.
“The seriousness of the current opioid crisis demands that elected officials set aside their ideological differences and join forces to get behind an evidence- and solutions-based approach,” said Jill Rosenthal, director of Public Health Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “Weaponizing the situation rather than recognizing and addressing the public health roots of the epidemic will needlessly cost lives.”
Read the report: “Tackling the Opioid Crisis Requires a Whole-of-Government, Society-Wide Approach” by Trinh Q. Truong, Debu Gandhi, Jill Rosenthal, Marquisha Johns, Mariam T. Rashid, Dan Restrepo, Akua Amaning, and Cleo Bluthenthal
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Julia Cusick at email@example.com.