National experts in substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction acknowledge the work ahead to combat opioid overdose
AUGUST 2019 – As people across the globe observe International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, members of the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose (CSOO) recommit to advocating for policy solutions that meaningfully and comprehensively address the deadly opioid overdose epidemic that affects millions of Americans.
There is much work to be done: A recent report by the CDC shows death rates are on the rise for young and middle-aged U.S. adults due to opioid overdose and, despite recent projections that suggest opioid overdose deaths are decreasing nationwide, the number of American lives lost to opioid overdose is near historic levels. Some states are even seeing an increase in the opioid overdose death rate. Recognizing the severity and wide-ranging scope of the crisis, members of CSOO call for swift and bold policy changes in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction that will reduce opioid overdoses. The CSOO’s 2019 policy platform includes the following recommendations:
- Change the conversation about what it means to have a substance use disorder and challenge stigma and discrimination;
- Strengthen the substance use disorder workforce;
- Remove barriers to, and increasing equitable access to, evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services for all people and families with (or at risk of) substance use disorder who need those services, including evidence-based treatment for people who are incarcerated;
- Secure adequate funding streams and appropriate insurance coverage for preventing and treating substance use disorder comprehensively; and
- Support research into effective prevention programs and pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for substance use disorder and chronic pain.
Overdose deaths represent a significant public health crisis, as more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2017 — including 47,600 from opioids such as heroin, prescription painkillers, and fentanyl — the highest on record. The effects of the opioid overdose crisis impact every aspect of American society. In addition to the tragic toll on individuals, families, and communities, the opioid overdose crisis generates significant economic costs. The CDC estimates that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion per year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, and criminal justice efforts.