Preparing for the Future of Fentanyl

The rates of overdose fatalities involving heroin or prescription opioids have slowed in recent years but are now outnumbered by overdoses involving synthetic opioids. The introduction of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids like fentanyl to U.S. drug markets has presented new challenges for policymakers working to reverse this public health crisis. What do policymakers need to consider in their efforts to address this threat in the United States?

RAND researchers recently analyzed the past, present, and possible futures of fentanyl in the United States. In this briefing, Bryce Pardo, associate policy researcher, and Beau Kilmer, director of the Drug Policy Research Center, discuss:

  • Recent trends in U.S. fatal overdoses and drug seizures
  • Factors that have contributed to the rise of synthetic opioids in the U.S.
  • What the future of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids looks like
  • Traditional and non-traditional policy options for addressing fentanyl problems