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Bloomberg American Health Initiative

Addiction and Overdose

The Challenge

Opioid addiction and overdose is a public health crisis, with a death rate that has more than doubled since 2000.

Overdoses claim more lives per year than motor vehicle accidents. While the death toll continues to rise, so does the toll of infectious disease related to illicit drug use, including hepatitis C. As the addiction crisis undermines communities across the country, families and neighborhoods pay a terrible price.

The inadequacy of policy responses reflect gaps in the understanding of a rapidly changing problem. New solutions are needed to address persistent stigma, the isolation of addiction treatment from other areas of medicine and major weaknesses in the public health and clinical workforce. Policymakers must also pay attention to societal contributors to addiction, including poverty and unemployment.

Opiods Icon Opioids (including prescription pain medication and heroin) killed more than 29,467 people in 2014.

Path to Recovery

New efforts will build on active research and advocacy projects, including work with the state of Rhode Island to reduce addiction and overdose, studies examining the correlation between the volume of prescription opioids on the market and injury and deaths from these drugs, and research on the role of insurance coverage in assuring access to needed treatment.