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A National Plan to Address Opioid Misuse

With more than 130 deaths each day, a person’s lifetime risk of death from an accidental opioid overdose is greater than the odds of dying in a car crash.

The National Safety Council is tackling the crisis head on with a comprehensive plan to address opioid misuse and save lives. In collaboration with dozens of partner organizations, NSC is offering a roadmap President Biden can adopt to ensure opioid misuse in the U.S. is addressed thoroughly, thoughtfully and effectively.

The NSC plan is unique in that it offers solutions for the entire lifecycle of addiction, from prevention to recovery. Its strategies engage several stakeholders, including prescribers, employers, insurers, law enforcement and first responders. The plan also tackles treatment, recovery and ending the stigma of substance use disorders.

The employers’ role is a universal gap NSC identified in all candidates plans, and it’s one that must be filled. Seventy-five percent of employers have been directly impacted by employee opioid misuse, according to NSC surveys. Only 17% feel very confident that they can address the problem effectively. While presidential actions do not necessarily become directives for private companies, a recognition of the employer role – and a call to action from the biggest pulpit in the world – can go a long way toward affecting change.

The plan offers recommendations that:

  • Address the role prescribers and prescribing play in the opioid crisis
  • Improve training and education of the non-addiction specialist medical workforce – including but not limited to primary care, emergency department, acute care, and mental health professionals – on addiction science and assessing for substance use disorders (SUDs)

NSC and its partner organizations urge the president to examine existing strategies and close gaps, or adopt this plan in full for the safety and wellbeing of the constituents he represents and protects.

In reviewing plans to address the opioid crisis, the biggest gaps come in addressing societal factors and influences, like employment, data collection and enforcement.

Overall, any plan to address opioid misuse should take a holistic approach and be based on the life cycle of addiction – from inception to recovery. One tactic cannot be effective without another.

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