Combating the Opioid Epidemic

  • David Hickton, JD

    The opioid epidemic is a significant public health and safety problem affecting millions of affected individuals, families, and society throughout the United States and in Pennsylvania. This epidemic has led to a significant increase in deaths from drug overdose, an increase in the use of the illicit opiates heroin and fentanyl, an increase in emergency room visits, medical and psychological complications for the user, and numerous adverse effects on the family and family members. Some of the adverse effects on family and children include a three- to five-fold increase in babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, and an increase in children of opioid addicted parents being placed in foster care or with relatives. This presentation will review this epidemic, and the recommendations of a National Task Force co-chaired by the presenter, and a working group he organized when he was the US Attorney of Western Pennsylvania. This community-based working group involved diverse stakeholders and made recommendations to confront this epidemic from multiple perspectives.

    Learning Objectives:

    1. Discuss a summary of the adverse effects of the opioid epidemic.
    2. Describe the work of the National Task Force and local working group in addressing the opioid epidemic.
    3. Review action plan recommendations such as increased use of naloxone, passage of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and initiation of the “take-back” program.
    4. Review education initiatives for prescribers, first responders, the public, and students.

    Target Audience: Clinical personnel, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, criminal justice professionals, health care professionals.

    Intermediate level. CE credits offered = 1.5 contact hours.