The rise of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is unlike any drug crisis in U.S. history. Limiting policy responses to existing approaches will likely be insufficient and may condemn many people to early deaths.
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.
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.
In 1989, RAND founded a new Drug Policy Research Center to provide rigorous, nonpartisan research to inform the debate on how to best address America's drug problem. Thirty years later, the center continues to do what it was created to do: improve the understanding of substance use and assess the consequences of an expanding range of drug policies.
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.
We conducted a scoping study to identify data sources and linking strategies commonly used in opioid studies, describe data source strengths and limitations, and highlight opportunities to use data to address public health research questions.
Evidence suggests that once a synthetic opioid like fentanyl becomes dominant in a drug market, it stays that way. With that in mind, the United States should prepare for these drugs as a lasting phenomenon.
State policies that impose punitive action against pregnant women who use illicit substances are associated with higher rates of infants being born with opioid withdrawal. This suggests that policymakers should instead focus on public health approaches that bolster prevention and expand access to treatment.
Understanding effects of cannabis laws requires greater attention to differences in short- versus long-term effects of the laws, nuances of policies and patterns of consumption, and careful consideration of appropriate control groups.
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.
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.
This study examines the associations between college attendance and subsequent alcohol and marijuana use behaviors at multiple ages during young adulthood and adulthood, while rigorously controlling for baseline differences by college type.