Aug 18, 2014
The United States is grappling with an opioid crisis that continues to cause devastation from addiction and massive numbers of deaths from overdose. Law enforcement has a unique role in addressing this crisis because it is directly tasked with interacting with those affected by the crisis on a day-to-day basis.
On September 25 and 26, 2018, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), supported by the RAND Corporation in partnership with the Police Executive Research Forum, hosted an event that brought together subject-matter experts to identify and prioritize promising approaches for responding to the opioid crisis. After a series of panels and discussions, participants produced 13 high-priority needs, including strategies that were perceived to be ready for immediate implementation and those with remaining challenges that should inform the research agenda. The high-priority needs reflect an assessment by the group that one primary solution to the opioid crisis will be a focus on connecting individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) to the medications that can treat them. It will be important to pursue solutions that reduce barriers to the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and expand access and funding for it. Connecting individuals with OUD to treatment will require effective collaborations among law enforcement officers, social workers, and other stakeholders. Finally, in addition to removing legal barriers, community and other stakeholder concerns will need to be addressed before high-priority harm-reduction approaches, such as safe injection sites or syringe exchanges, can be implemented.