In 2017, just after President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a nationwide public health emergency, IWF published a policy paper detailing the devastating consequences of opioid abuse, for women in particular, and how ill-conceived government policies contributed to the crisis.
Since then, important progress has been made in the battle against opioid abuse. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that opioid deaths declined 5.1 percent overall in 2018.
The Administration recently launched www.findtreatment.gov which enables users to search for treatment options and filter results by age, gender, veteran status, insurance, and more. To combat the opioid crisis, the Administration has supported the usage of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which relies on prescription drugs to treat opioid addiction such as buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone, and have made MAT more easily accessible for those struggling with opioid addiction. From 2016 to 2019, 38 percent more Americans received MAT for their substance disorder according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Importantly, the Administration has also taken steps to put an end to the flow of illicit drugs, like heroin and fentanyl, into the U.S.
While this is encouraging news, the opioid epidemic remains a serious national crisis that requires an ever-evolving response if we hope to ever overcome this terrible, ongoing tragedy.
Policymakers can certainly help turn the tide of the opioid crisis. Yet we shouldn’t rely on government–certainly not government alone–to solve this crisis.
The opioid epidemic is the result of multiple, complex factors. It’s important to remember that local and state officials, along with private and charitable organizations, are best equipped to respond to opioid abuse in their individual communities.
Future policies should foster state-based interagency programs to combat addiction and encourage public-private partnerships with organizations already fighting drug abuse. It’s also important to avoid going too far and making it impossible for patients who legitimately need these drugs for serious pain, such as cancer patients, to access them.
Independent Women's Forum has done extensive work on the opioid crisis. In addition to the Policy Focus mentioned above, we also published this takeaways document on The Opioid Epidemic Effects on Women and sent a letter to the Presidential Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis urging them to carefully consider the impact of the opioid crisis on women.