OPTIC Commentary

All OPTIC Commentary

  • Sleeping baby with adult hand holding baby's hand, photo by Amax Photo/Getty Images

    Policies That Punish Pregnant Women for Substance Use Don't Help Mother or Baby

    Jan 28, 2020

    About half of all U.S. states now have policies that criminalize substance use during pregnancy, consider it grounds for civil commitment, or consider it child abuse or neglect. But research suggests that punitive policies aren't beneficial for infants or their mothers.

  • Syringe and heroin on a black background, photo by Kittipong/Adobe Stock

    Fentanyl: The Most Dangerous Illegal Drug in America

    Jan 13, 2020

    America's fentanyl crisis is unlike previous drug epidemics and is likely to get worse. Deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have surged from around 3,000 in 2013 to more than 30,000 in 2018. Solving the problem requires innovative approaches and unprecedented resources.

  • Pill bottle with pills spilled out of it, photo by Moussa81/Getty Images

    Where Science Says to Spend Any U.S. Opioid Settlement Money

    Dec 19, 2019

    A global settlement with pharmaceutical companies has started to appear more and more likely. Even with billions of dollars, the settlement resources won't be unlimited. To avoid mistakes made in the tobacco master settlement agreement, any opioid funds must be carefully allocated.

  • Fentanyl in a vial, photo by designer491/Getty Images

    What Will the Opioid Crisis Look Like in Five Years?

    Nov 18, 2019

    Despite variations in European opioid markets, there is an overarching commonality too: Once a synthetic opioid like fentanyl becomes dominant, it stays that way. The United States should prepare for fentanyl and other synthetic opioids as a lasting phenomenon. Learning from other countries' experiences is an important part of that effort.

  • Fentanyl in powder form, at the site of a suspected crime scene, photo by United States Drug Enforcement Agency

    Synthetic Opioid Crisis Still Growing, Often Among Unwitting Users

    Oct 14, 2019

    Although opioid prescriptions in the U.S. have fallen, opioid overdose deaths remain at historic levels. The continued spread of fentanyl and other illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids suggests the problem could still get worse.

  • Bags of fentanyl and heroin that were seized by authorities, photo by United States DEA

    Tackle Fentanyl like a Poisoning Outbreak, Not a Drug Epidemic

    Sep 3, 2019

    America's fentanyl problem is far deadlier than past crises with other illegal drugs. New ideas, be they public policies, technologies or law enforcement strategies, are desperately needed. Continuing to treat fentanyl just like previous drug epidemics will likely be insufficient and may condemn thousands more to early deaths.

  • Bags of fentanyl at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area at the International Mail Facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, November 29, 2017, photo by Joshua Lott/Reuters

    China's Ban on Fentanyl Drugs Won't Likely Stem America's Opioid Crisis

    May 22, 2019

    Given China's recent decision to ban the unauthorized manufacture of fentanyl, authorities there appear to recognize a growing problem. But China cannot solve the U.S. opioid problem. The United States could do more to reduce demand for opioids as well as drug users' exposure to these powerful drugs.

  • RAND physician policy researcher Tisamarie Sherry discusses the U.S. opioid crisis at a RAND event in Pittsburgh, April 10, 2019, photo by Michael Reed Photography

    A Holistic Approach to Solving the Opioid Crisis

    Apr 15, 2019

    While federal, state and, local governments deploy strategies to tackle the opioid crisis, the problem continues to proliferate. RAND researchers suggest that these strategies fail to solve the larger problem because they've largely been developed in silos. The opioid crisis is an ecosystem, and mitigating the problem will require a holistic approach.

  • Used Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride) containers and syringes sit in a case, after paramedics revived a man in his 40s, who was found unresponsive, after overdosing on opioids in Salem, Massachusetts, August 9, 2017, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    (Grey's) Anatomy of an Opioid Crisis

    Apr 8, 2019

    More than 130 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids. So when one of the most popular shows on TV made opioid misuse a major plotline, RAND experts paid attention to how it presented this public health crisis. The show mirrored reality pretty closely, for the narrow slice of the opioid crisis it addressed.

  • Newborn baby holding mother's hand, photo by damircudic/Getty Images

    Opioid-Dependent Newborns in My West Virginia Hometown Point to a Path Out of Drug Crisis

    Mar 6, 2019

    In small, rural towns like Bluefield, West Virginia, economies are hurting, the opioid epidemic is growing, and together they are taking a toll on a surprising population: pregnant women and their babies.

  • A used needle sits on the ground in a park where there were raids to break up heroin and fentanyl drug rings in Lawrence, Massachusetts, May 30, 2017, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Opioids and a Crisis of Unintended Consequences

    Feb 20, 2019

    The pain medicine OxyContin was reformulated in 2010 to make it more difficult to crush or dissolve. But this had unintended consequences, including a rise in hepatitis C infections as drug abusers switched from taking OxyContin to injecting heroin.

  • Doctor and patient discussing medication

    In Opioid Policy, One Size Does Not Fit All

    Oct 12, 2018

    To solve America's opioid crisis, policymakers will need to view the epidemic as an “ecosystem,” where policies that target only one part of the problem can have unintended consequences.