January 24, 2017
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This collection of resources related to the opioid crisis is curated by the staff of the Government Innovators Network. Please visit our Substance Abuse page for more resources.




2016 Opioid Facts and Figures

American Society of Addiction Medicine

The American Society of Addiction Medicine presents baseline facts and figures about opioid use and abuse in the United States.


Opioids: The Prescription Drug & Heroin Overdose Epidemic

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides background material on the drug and heroin overdose epidemic in the United States. In addition to drug and pain medication facts, the website provides information about prevention, treatment, and addiction recovery. Contact information for health professionals and law enforcement resources is also listed.  


News Articles


7 Tools to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Cities Speak

A variety of experts in the public health field provided testimony to the National City-County Task Force on the opioid epidemic, presenting seven tools for local leaders to use to combat the opioid epidemic.  


Baker, Hassan to Pitch Massachusetts Opioid Approach as “National Model”

Gloucester Times

Key components of a new Massachusetts opioid law will be part of a "national model" for addiction prevention that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan will recommend to governors from across the country. Baker and Hassan plan to include a limit on new opioid prescriptions in a proposal they will present to the National Governors Association.


Boston Medical Center Launches Opioid Urgent Care Center

Boston Magazine

Boston Medical Center is fighting the opioid epidemic with a new opioid urgent care center that aims to give patients faster access to substance abuse treatment. The new center, called Faster Paths to Treatment, is run in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission, and is funded by a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the Department of Public Health.


Colleges Use Sober Dorms to Combat Opioid Epidemic


To forge new ground in the fight against opioid use on campus, colleges are creating sober dorms, a practice that Rutgers University first developed in 1988.


Cuomo Visits Staten Island to Sign Legislation Combating Heroin and Opioid Addiction

Time Warner Cable News

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Staten Island to sign legislation combating heroin and opioid addiction, a growing problem in the borough and across the state.


The Instant Test That Can Tell Whether Users’ Drugs Are Cut with a Deadly Chemical

Pacific Standard

Vancouver, Canada has begun offering drug users instant test strips to verify whether their illegal drugs contain fentanyl. These test strips offer a low-cost solution to testing the contamination levels of drugs.


Ithaca’s Anti-Heroin Plan: Open a Site to Shoot Heroin

The New York Times

Ithaca mayor Svante L. Myrick recently unveiled a plan for establishing a “supervised injection facility,” a site where people could legally shoot heroin. A supervised injection center is one pillar of a four-part plan that addresses prevention, treatment, and law enforcement of heroin addiction in Ithaca.


New England Governors: Fighting Stigma Key to Opioid Battle

Hartford Courant

New England governors convened at a conference to address the concerns, challenges, and proven strategies in the battle against the opioid crisis raging across the region. All six governors agreed that fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is key to solving the addiction crisis.


Opioid Addiction Targeted by Surgeon General

Consumer Reports

This article discusses key information about opioid addiction taken from the Surgeon General’s recent report, “Facing Addiction in America.” Opioid addiction remains a top concern among public health professionals, and recommendations for preventing addiction are outlined.


Opioid History: From 'Wonder Drug' to Abuse Epidemic


The abuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers and drugs like heroin, is something the United States has struggled with since before the 1900s. This article traces the history of opioid use and abuse in the United States, and comments on the recent rise in opioid addiction across the nation.


Oregon State to Offer Separate Dorm for Students Recovering from Drug, Alcohol Addiction

The Oregonian

Oregon State University will open an on-campus dorm specifically designed for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Oregon State is converting the Dixon Lodge, a former student co-op living center, into the new dorm, which it is calling The Recovery and Learning Community.


The Pain Points of Opioid Policy

The Atlantic

Although the federal government has introduced recent reforms in the fight against the opioid epidemic, many question whether the reforms are too modest to defeat addiction.


Pitt Partners With State to Address Opioid Crisis at County Level

90.5 WESA

The state of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh announced a new partnership aimed at reducing levels of opioid addiction across Pennsylvania counties. Through the partnership, the Pennsylvania Heroin Overdose Prevention Technical Assistance Center will provide support and training to county officials in creating strategic plans to address the crisis.


Issue Briefs


A Comprehensive Approach to Address the Prescription Opioid Epidemic in Washington State: Milestones and Lessons Learned

American Journal of Public Health

This  American Journal of Public Health’s policy brief details the strong collaborations across executive health care agencies, and between those public agencies and practicing leaders in the pain field that have led to a substantial reversal of the opioid epidemic in Washington State.


Expanded Access to Naloxone among Firefighters, Police Officers, and Emergency Medical Technicians in Massachusetts

American Journal of Public Health

This policy brief addresses drug policy changes in Massachusetts, where several communities have equipped emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, and firefighters with naloxone, a medication that reverses respiratory depression from opioid overdose if given in time.


Opioid Epidemic Compact

National Governors Association

During the 2016 National Governors Association Winter Meeting, governors agreed that collective action is needed to end the opioid crisis. The resulting compact, signed by 40 governors, commits efforts to fight opioid addiction by taking steps to reduce inappropriate opioid prescribing, leading efforts to change the nation’s understanding of opioids and addiction, and taking actions to ensure a pathway to recovery for individuals with addiction.


Oregon's Strategy to Confront Prescription Opioid Misuse

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

This case study reviews the Oregon Prescription Drug Taskforce's participation in the National Governors Association State Policy Academy on Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse. The Taskforce developed a strategy for practice change, community education, and enhanced access to safe opioid disposal using stakeholder meetings, consensus development, and five action steps. The case study offers lessons in leadership for public health and medical practitioners throughout the country.


Pain Management and Prescription Opioid-Related Harms: Exploring the State of the Evidence, Proceedings of a Workshop in Brief

National Academy of Sciences

The Committee on Pain Management and Regulatory Strategies to Address Prescription Opioid Abuse was tasked with preparing a report that identifies actions that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and others can take to address the opioid epidemic while taking into account individual need for pain control. This brief includes the Committee’s discussions on combating the opioid epidemic and identifies potential areas for future research in the field.


Prescribing Opioids to Addicted Populations

Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies

This article highlights the signs of opioid dependence and the pharmacological alternatives to opioids. The resource also makes recommendations as to how health care providers can support patients in recovery, including a step-by-step plan for pain management.


Prescription Opioid Abuse: Problems and Responses

Preventive Medicine

This brief considers the factors that have led to over prescription of opioids by clinicians, discusses recent evidence casting doubt on the efficacy of opioids for treating chronic pain, and describes the ongoing efforts by federal and community stakeholders to address this epidemic.


Public Safety Aspects of the Heroin Abuse Epidemic:

Pew Charitable Trusts

This issue brief outlines the growth of heroin abuse across the United States and discusses how policymakers at all levels of government are attempting to address the nationwide increase in addiction. The brief notes that the most effective response to the growth in heroin abuse is a combination of law enforcement to decrease trafficking, alternative prison sentencing, treatment to reduce dependency and recidivism, and prevention efforts that can help identify individuals at high risk for addiction.


Rural Communities in Crisis: Strategies to Address the Opioid Crisis

National Rural Health Association

The opioid crisis affects rural communities in multiple ways and presents additional challenges to resource-strapped rural environments. The National Rural Health Association’s policy paper outlines strategies to help curb the current opioid crisis in rural America.


Strategies to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

MIT J-PAL North America

As part of ongoing engagement with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) North America created a policy brief summarizing the evidence for select interventions to treat opioid use disorders and related harms.


Vermont Responds to its Opioid Crisis

Preventive Medicine

This brief discusses Vermont’s actions towards the state’s opioid crisis. Coordinated efforts between the Vermont Department of Health's Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs and the Department of Vermont Health Access have resulted in the creation of the Care Alliance for Opioid Addiction, and the state plans to develop a reproducible model based on cost effective public policy.


Reports and Guided Solutions


Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health reviews current knowledge of  substance misuse and how that knowledge can be used to address substance misuse and related consequences. The report presents a vision for the future, five general messages, their implications for policy and practice, and recommendations for specific stakeholder groups.


Finding Solutions to the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: A Road Map for States

National Governors Association

The National Governors Association, in consultation with senior state officials and other national experts, developed a road map to help states respond to the growing opioid crisis. The road map report features a public health approach focused on preventing and treating the disease of opioid use disorder, while strengthening law enforcement efforts to address illegal supply chain activity. It is designed as a policy development tool, allowing states to use all or portions of the road map as it applies to their unique situation.


An Obligation to Lead: Massachusetts Municipal Association Report of the MMA’s Municipal Opioid Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force

Massachusetts Municipal Association

The Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Municipal Opioid Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force has focused its efforts in several key areas, including identifying opportunities for leadership at home and across the state, enhancing intra- and inter-community information sharing, increasing public education and awareness, ensuring the effective coordination of resources between federal, state and local agencies, and pursuing additional resources and programs that are needed to address this crisis-level issue. This report offers ten opportunities and recommendations for local leadership.


A Prescription for Action: Local Leadership in Ending the Opioid Crisis

National League of Cities and National Association of Counties

The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties task force on the nation’s opioid and heroin abuse crisis published a report addressing leadership during the crisis. The report outlines recommendations for local, state, and federal leaders to heighten awareness, education, and prevention around opioid addiction.


Prescription Nation 2016: Addressing America’s Drug Epidemic

National Safety Council

The National Safety Council’s report on the opioid crisis outlines America’s overdependence on painkillers and how state governments play a significant role in the fight to break the cycle of overdependence and addiction. The report identifies four key actions states can take that can have immediate and sustained impact.  


Raising the Children of the Opioid Epidemic

Generations United

Generations United’s report concludes that alcohol and drug use are the most common reasons for removing children from their homes, next to neglect, and that more than 1/3 of all children placed in foster care because of parental alcohol or drug use are placed with relatives. The report outlines solutions and support mechanisms for family members affected by opioid addiction.


U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 360 Strategy

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA’s 360 Strategy responds to the heroin and prescription opioid pill crisis. The 360 Strategy takes an innovative three-pronged approach to combating heroin/opioid use through coordinated law enforcement actions, diversion control enforcement, and community outreach. Since launching the 360 Strategy in November 2015, DEA has deployed the strategy in other pilot cities and is using the three-pronged approach in all DEA Field Divisions.

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