Across the United States, more than 100,000 individuals died from drug overdoses between September 2021 and August 2022, and a majority of these cases involved illegally manufactured synthetic opioids. New RAND research finds that although efforts have been made to address the country’s drug problems, policymakers will need to take a more holistic approach to save and improve lives.
The new report, America’s Opioid Ecosystem, provides insights into the extraordinary depth of the country’s opioid problems. The researchers developed a framework highlighting initiatives that cut across different systems and that could mitigate many harms associated with opioids. Understanding how these systems interconnect can help policymakers recognize how decisions made in one part of the ecosystem can have major effects in others—effects that are sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful, and often unanticipated. Researchers offer nine action areas that could help decisionmakers prioritize and organize their efforts to address problems associated with opioid use.
The report is accompanied by a simple-to-use online tool to allow policymakers to better understand the dynamics of the opioid crisis and explore innovative and evidence-based solutions that leverage system interactions to reduce addiction, overdose, suffering, and other harms.
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