To address the opiate epidemic, we cannot rely simply on enforcement and maintenance. And we certainly cannot slash funding for group therapy, one of the least expensive ways to provide treatment for addiction.
Our commitment must be to invest at every level of stopping this epidemic: prevention, enforcement, treatment, and transition. We need our doctors, enforcement officers, mental health professionals, and social service providers to work together to solve these problems. We need boots on the ground, clear metrics for success across all programs, and relentless focus on solving this problem.
Strategies must include:
- Increasing the availability of treatment options through enhancing and expanding the workforce in addiction services. This includes working with big-pharma to fund a national program to incentivize people to enter into addiction services (modeled after federal 4E program for social workers) and creating a service corps to do door-to-door work to identify individuals at risk before addiction sets in.
- Developing a unified response across all government agencies to this epidemic. Use a unified screening tool across agencies to identify at-risk individuals and refer them for treatment
- Working aggressively with health care providers to reduce the use of prescription opiate painkillers. Expand and enhance education of doctors about alternative responses to pain in lieu of prescribed opiates, including acupuncture, which has been shown to reduce eventual opiate addiction in Oregon.
- Enhancing the use of law enforcement as the point of referral into treatment.
- Expanding use of pre-charging programs that refer addicted offenders to treatment rather than to court.