Legislators and policymakers on the local, state and federal levels should use opioid settlement funds for substantial allocations to prevention initiatives, as well as immediate funding for evidence-based treatment, recovery support and overdose reversals, advocates urge in STAT.
Billions of dollars in settlement funds are going to states and localities throughout the country from lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors.
“The crisis of opioid overdose deaths that sparked the multitude of lawsuits leading to a historic settlement continues to rage, with overdose deaths at an all-time high despite heightened national awareness and more resources than ever dedicated to treatment and overdose prevention,” wrote Linda Richter, Vice President of Prevention Research and Analysis at Partnership to End Addiction and Diana Fishbein, Senior Scientist in the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
In a podcast about the opinion piece, Richter said some states are allocating these funds to law enforcement and access to overdose reversal medications. These approaches are important, but she notes they address the end-stage consequences of addiction. Richter says efforts are needed to prevent family instability, childhood trauma and stress and youth exposure to addictive substances. These efforts can significantly reduce substance use and prevent escalation to addiction and other health and social problems.