Op-Ed: ‘We Must Attack Opioid Overdoses With The Same Focus We Gave HIV’

Overdose - Hand with PillsIn a Baltimore Sun op-ed, Dr. Yngvild Olson, medical director of the Institutes for Behavior Resources Inc/REACH Health Services and Vice President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, advocates for addressing the opioid epidemic with as much fervor as the HIV/AIDs crisis was addressed at its height.

From The Sun Op-Ed:

In 1990, just months after Ryan’s untimely death, Congress passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act — legislation widely regarded today as a turning point in the epidemic.

Since then, we have made tremendous progress toward ensuring HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. It is now time to take similar bold action against the opioid overdose epidemic, which represents the deadliest public health threat in the U.S. today — killing over two-thirds of the 70,000 Americans who died of drug overdoses in 2017. Maryland is a particularly hard hit state, with nearly 90 percent of the 2,385 overdose deaths in 2018, according to preliminary numbers, related to opioids.

The op-ed also advocates for passage of the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. Originally sponsored by Congressman Elijah Cummings and Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018, they have reintroduced the bill this year. The bill was modeled after the Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, the passage of which Olsen noted as the turning point of the HIV/AIDs crisis. CNN reports on the CARE Act:

The plan would provide $4 billion to states, territories and tribal governments in general funding to combat the crisis. An additional $2.7 billion would go to what Warren deems the “hardest hit” cities and counties, of which $1.4 billion would go to those with the most overdoses.

Research, public health monitoring and health worker training programs would receive $1.7 billion, and public and nonprofit support centers would receive $1.1 billion to expand and incentivize innovative treatment, recovery and harm reduction programs. Additionally, $500 million would go to expanding access to naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing drug.

For more information:

We must attack opioid overdoses with the same focus we gave HIV (The Baltimore Sun)

Elizabeth Warren targets opioid crisis in latest policy rollout (CNN)

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