Drug Policy Research Center Hot Topic: Heroin and Other Opioids

The RAND Drug Policy Research Center is a non-partisan research center dedicated to providing objective analysis and research to decisionmakers. We do not have an official policy position on opioid use and more generally RAND does not advocate for or against legislation at any level of government.

For almost 30 years, RAND researchers have published articles and studies that will be useful for those making decisions about policies related to opioids. Here we summarize some of these studies and provide links to the publications (some journal articles may require subscription). This is not an exhaustive list of RAND's opioid-related publications and we encourage readers to visit the DPRC homepage for more information.

Featured Research

  • Aug 29, 2019

    Synthetic Opioids: An Unprecedented Crisis

    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.

Commentary

  • Tackle Fentanyl like a Poisoning Outbreak, Not a Drug Epidemic

    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

    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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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

    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.

  • A supervised injection site for people who use drugs, in Lausanne, Switzerland, September 28, 2018, photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

    Addressing Federal Conflicts Over Supervised Drug Consumption Sites

    With drug overdose deaths mounting, some American cities are trying to create designated spaces where people who use heroin and other drugs can have their consumption supervised by medical professionals. The Department of Justice argues these sites would violate federal law, but federal decisionmakers have several options.

  • Doctor and patient discussing medication

    In Opioid Policy, One Size Does Not Fit All

    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.

Multimedia

Research Categories:

Treatment and Prescribing

Consumption and Opioid Use Disorder

Policy, Law, and Regulation

Economics of Opioids and Supply

Prevention and Interventions

Harm Reduction