Evidence-Based Solutions To Stop The Opioid Crisis
A coalition of 240 organizations has come together to urge Congress to pass legislation to address the opioid crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that more than 100,000 people in the United States have died of an overdose in the 12 months ending in April 2020. In response, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) , the National Harm Reduction Coalition and People’s Action and VOCAL-NY led a group of 240 civil rights, drug policy, criminal justice reform, public health and faith organizations in urging members of Congress to pass legislation that will prioritize tackling the overdose crisis.
They specifically urged Congress to consider evidence-based public health approaches, including Critical Harm Reduction Funding, the MAT Act, the STOP Fentanyl Act, and the Medicaid Reentry Act.
“With more than 100,000 people dying from overdoses in the United States in the first year of the pandemic, passing this critical piece of legislation is not just more urgent than ever, it’s literally a matter of life or death for so many people, âsaid Maritza Perez, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs.
âWe are well past the point of waiting for a politically opportune moment to take the necessary steps to stem this crisis and save lives. The US government has targeted and criminalized our communities for drugs over the past 50 years as a political ploy that has only fueled the overdose crisis. With countless other lives on the line, it’s time to stop playing politics and continue down this ill-fated path. It is absolutely imperative that policymakers change course immediately and prioritize evidence-based public health alternatives that have been proven to save lives. “
Their statement urges Congress to enact life-saving legislation by the end of 2022, including the following 4:
1. Funding of $ 69.5 million to increase access to overdose prevention, harm reduction and syringe service programs through the CDC’s Infectious Disease and Opioid Epidemic Program .
2. The Drug Enforcement Integration Act, which eliminates the outdated requirement that practitioners request a separate exemption from the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of substance use disorders. .
3. The Fentanyl Overdose Support, Treatment and Prevention Act, or the Fentanyl STOP Act, which improves monitoring and detection of fentanyl.
4. The Medicaid Reentry Act, which would allow Medicaid to cover health services during the last 30 days of incarceration and create better links with community care during reintegration.
âWe know how to solve the overdose crisis through evidence-based public health solutions,â said Sondra Youdelman, director of popular action campaigns. âOur communities have just suffered a record 100,000 preventable overdose deaths in a single year. Instead of continuing to criminalize drug use, Congress must take evidence-based action now and listen to the people who have lost 100,000 loved ones. “
Jasmine Budnella, director of drug policy at VOCAL-NY, echoed these sentiments: âOur nation is at a heartbreaking and infuriating time. With more than 100,000 of our loved ones dying from preventable overdoses, it is a serious failure that proven evidence-based solutions to reverse the overdose crisis remain elusive. Congress must heed calls for urgent action and pass science-based, harm reduction and care legislation before the new year. If our leaders do not act, another year of devastating and historic overdose deaths is inevitable. “
This article originally appeared on Psychiatric schedules.
1. Alliance for Drug Policy. As the overdose crisis claims lives, a coalition of 240 organizations urges Congress to pass life-saving public health bills. Press release. November 30, 2021. Accessed December 1, 2021. https://drugpolicy.org/press-release/2021/11/overdose-crisis-claims-record-lives-coalition-240-organizations-urge-congress