Policymakers should think of the opioid crisis as an ecosystem and consider how its many parts interact—especially in unexpected ways. A broader view of the crisis will help those confronting it better prepare for the challenges ahead.
Opioids are powerful medicine for pain management. But many factors, including over-prescribing, misuse, and addiction, have led to a national health crisis. As policymakers and affected members of the public look for solutions, RAND Health Care examines potential policies and interventions to address both the causes and effects of the opioid crisis.
Although overdose deaths from heroin and prescription opioids have declined, deaths involving synthetic opioids are on the rise. Much of the current wave of overdoses is linked to one synthetic opioid: fentanyl.