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October 12, 2017

Ten Steps the Federal Government Should Take Now to Reverse the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Author Affiliations
  • 1Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
  • 2Resolve, Vital Strategies, New York, New York
JAMA. 2017;318(16):1537-1538. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.14567

The United States is in the midst of the worst drug addiction epidemic in its history. Prescriptions for and deaths from opioids both quadrupled between 1995 and 2010. By 2015, an estimated 92 million individuals in the United States were prescribed an opioid and there were more than 33 000 deaths from an opioid-involved overdose.1

There are no simple solutions to ending this epidemic. Effective programs need to address 2 separate priorities: (1) prevention of addiction among people not currently addicted, and (2) treatment and risk reduction to prevent overdose and death among the millions of individuals in the United States now addicted. In this Viewpoint, we suggest 10 steps that could accelerate progress; national declarations, state-specific emergency declarations, or both could potentially facilitate implementation of these steps.2