Name: Claire Stroud
From: Newbury Park, California
In the United States, the primary response to battling the opioid epidemic, and drug use in general, has
been through the criminal justice system. This has resulted in the highest incarceration rate in the world,
and is widely known to be ineffective at reducing drug use, with high rates of relapse to drug use, crime
and re-incarceration. Additionally, the criminal justice approach has fostered a fear of arrest that
often impedes bystanders from calling to seek life-saving medical help in the case an opioid overdose
Taking a purely punitive approach in the face of the current crisis is misguided and risks
further harm to individuals and communities already struggling with addiction. Outreach for earlier engagement
in treatment with evidence-based medical therapies and long term recovery, support for
people with opioid use disorder has the potential to have a much more beneficial effect.
It would seem appropriate to reduce the availability of prescription opioids as a way to stop this
problem; however, unfortunately, if that is done too abruptly, in the absence of available treatment,
will drive more people to switch to using illicit drugs, which will increase the risk of overdose. In the
long term, it will be important to reduce the widespread availability of opioids in order to reduce new
initiates to opioid dependence.
We need strong online accessible prescription monitoring program with an increasing number of health
professionals registered and poised to use it in institutions that would also limit prescriptions for opioids
obtained from the emergency department. These and other local efforts to improve safer prescribing
must start. This plan must be a collaborative approach aimed at both supply and
demand, as well as those aimed at harm reduction. Monitoring must generate positive relationships with the most
vulnerable of populations affected by addiction and overdose, to reduce drug-related stigma, to provide evidence–based
treatment at every opportunity.