Why do you think opioid overdoses are increasing?
"Aside from the obvious fact that opioids are highly addictive, there are a lot of reasons. Some big reasons may include the overprescription of opioids, not enough regulation/monitoring once these opioids have been prescribed, a lack of public education on the issue, not enough funding for law enforcement to crack down on illegal production, or simply the fact that opioids are easier to acquire and more potent than other options out there."
Is the opioid epidemic more of a criminal issue or a mental/physical health issue?
"Both. Basically, opioids need to be less accessible, and alternatives need to be more accessible. Those who are producing and dealing illegal opioids should be punished criminally. Prescription of opioids for chronic pain should be carefully monitored and follow guidelines set by the CDC. And those who are suffering from an addiction to opioids need to have plenty of resources for help. Addiction is a disease, and should be treated as such. Treatment and rehabilitation options including methadone clinics, supervised withdrawal and prescription of medications to help symptoms, and continued maintenance therapy following detox need to be readily available and utilized."
Should there be mandatory health education on opioids? Why or why not?
"I do think there should be mandatory health education on opioids. This may include a specific unit in health classes in school, more education to police officers on how to help if someone is overdosing, or something like a declared ‘Opioid Education Week’ in cities. I think education is one of the most powerful forces in fighting many problems. I think it would raise awareness on just how dangerous some of these opioid-derivative drugs are, as well as increasing understanding and compassion for those who suffer from addictions."
Leavitt Center Podcast: How it stands