The Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: A Public Health Approach to an Epidemic of Addiction

Posted: 23 Mar 2015

See all articles by Andrew Kolodny

Andrew Kolodny

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management; Phoenix House Foundation; New York University (NYU)

David Courtwright

University of North Florida

Catherine S. Hwang

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology

Peter Kreiner

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

John L. Eadie

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Thomas Clark

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

G. Alexander

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology; Johns Hopkins University - Department of Medicine; Monument Analytics

Date Written: March 2015

Abstract

Public health authorities have described, with growing alarm, an unprecedented increase in morbidity and mortality associated with use of opioid pain relievers (OPRs). Efforts to address the opioid crisis have focused mainly on reducing nonmedical OPR use. Too often overlooked, however, is the need for preventing and treating opioid addiction, which occurs in both medical and nonmedical OPR users. Overprescribing of OPRs has led to a sharp increase in the prevalence of opioid addiction, which in turn has been associated with a rise in overdose deaths and heroin use. A multifaceted public health approach that utilizes primary, secondary, and tertiary opioid addiction prevention strategies is required to effectively reduce opioid-related morbidity and mortality. We describe the scope of this public health crisis, its historical context, contributing factors, and lines of evidence indicating the role of addiction in exacerbating morbidity and mortality, and we provide a framework for interventions to address the epidemic of opioid addiction.

Suggested Citation

Kolodny, Andrew and Courtwright, David and Hwang, Catherine S. and Kreiner, Peter and Eadie, John L. and Clark, Thomas and Alexander, G. Caleb, The Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: A Public Health Approach to an Epidemic of Addiction (March 2015). Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 36, pp. 559-574, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2581488 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122957

Andrew Kolodny (Contact Author)

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

Phoenix House Foundation ( email )

New York, NY
United States

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

David Courtwright

University of North Florida ( email )

4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, South
Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645
United States

Catherine S. Hwang

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology ( email )

Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Peter Kreiner

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

John L. Eadie

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

Thomas Clark

Brandeis University - The Heller School for Social Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 549110/MS 035
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02454
United States

G. Caleb Alexander

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology ( email )

Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Medicine ( email )

720 Rutland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21205-2196
United States

Monument Analytics ( email )

Baltimore, MD
United States

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