A Public Health Approach to Reducing Opioid Overdose

Every day in the United States, over 100 people die of a drug overdose. In the past decade, the most important part of this sad story has been the vast expansion in availability and use of opioids (e.g., oxycodone, heroin, fentanyl). Although a “downstream” intervention will never fundamentally solve the problem, it can at least reduce the death toll. That is the role of expanding access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone (aka Narcan) and creating Good Samaritan provisions for overdose emergencies.

The White House Office of Drug Control Policy, which strongly supports these reforms (Yes, elections really matter) has assembled the following data on the state of play around the country. Clearly, much has been accomplished and much more remains to be done. I dig into these details more in my latest piece at Washington Post Wonkblog.


Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.