This week, we discuss parallels between extremism and substance use disorder; a better way to assess the risk of recidivism; how the United States could deliver on global vaccine diplomacy; modernizing America's nuclear Triad; how collaboration technologies could change demographic trends; and data on opioid prescribing trends.
Can Extremism Be Addictive?
Yesterday marked one year since supporters of then–President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol. This deadly day shined a light on the threat of violent extremism—especially violent white extremism—in the United States.
In a new paper, RAND researchers consider this threat through a public health lens, outlining parallels between violent extremism and substance use disorder. The goal is not to suggest that addiction to substances and extremism are one and the same or that one causes the other. Rather, they hope that assessing these parallels helps identify potential opportunities to prevent hate and radicalization.
According to the authors, approaches that incorporate community-centeredness, harm reduction, and radical forgiveness show promise in countering both substance use disorder and extremism. Of course, there must be consequences for behaviors that harm others. But it appears that too much punishment (or not enough support) “might feed the cycle of vengeful retribution that is critical in driving domestic extremism.”
A New Way to Measure Recidivism Risk
What if criminal background checks were designed to assess an individual's level of risk at the time of the background check—rather than the time a person was last convicted or released from prison? A new RAND study proposes a risk-prediction model that does just that. This approach would reflect the reality that people with criminal convictions can, and usually do, change their ways.
Global Vaccine Diplomacy: It's Not Too Late for the U.S. to Lead the Way
Once COVID-19 vaccines were developed, not enough was done to ensure that the global population got vaccinated. The United States can still meet this challenge, says RAND's Krishna Kumar, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives and ending the pandemic for good. Such an effort would require providing logistical support, easing export restrictions on vaccine components, and sharing strategies to address vaccine hesitancy.
Modernizing the U.S. Nuclear Triad
Since the 1950s, the United States has fielded a nuclear Triad consisting of weapon systems that operate in the air, at sea, and on land. Major components of all three legs are nearing the end of their service lives. In a new paper, RAND experts outline the rationale for modernizing the Triad and identify arguments for and against developing a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
Could Zoom Change the Very Makeup of Populations?
Technologies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have transformed how we work, go to school, and visit the doctor. According to RAND experts, use of these platforms could have long-term effects on migration patterns; on our health, including fertility, morbidity, and mortality trends; and on inequality. But the extent of these effects is still unknown. That's why it's vital to track the use of collaboration technologies over time.
What We Know About Opioid Prescribing Trends
The overprescribing of opioid medication for pain has been a key driver of the opioid crisis. A new RAND study shows a significant decline in the volume of opioid prescriptions filled between 2008 and 2018. However, this decline varied among geographic areas, patient type, and prescriber type. “There is a lot more nuance in the changes in opioid prescribing than we previously understood,” said lead author Bradley Stein.
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