Un-Burying the Lead: Public Health Tools Are the Key to Beating the Opioid Epidemic

brookingsThis study from the Brookings Institution, “Un-Burying the Lead: Public Health Tools Are the Key to Beating the Opioid Epidemic,” examines the measures recommended by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and argues that the measures will have limited success unless policymakers prioritize the Commission’s public health recommendations and implement them with immediate action steps. The study draws parallels between today’s crisis and other historic drug epidemics in order to convey the public health lessons policymakers can learn, and argues for a more equitable approach to America’s past and present drug crises. Although the victims of today’s opioid crisis are largely white—whereas the heroin crisis of the 1970s predominately affected communities of color—the study states that the epidemics share many similarities and that the social risk factors that contributed to both these crises counsel similar policy solutions. The study then goes on to suggest a number of ways policymakers can build on the commission’s recommendations to address issues of housing and employment, community engagement, and criminal justice interventions that are essential to defeating the worsening opioid crisis.