Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Maryland Researchers Publish Report on Opioid Crisis in Collaboration with Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy

People who experience problems using prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids tend to have other substance use issues as well, a fact that has important implications for how America addresses its devastating epidemic of drug overdose deaths.

The latest edition of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy’s Emerging Drug Trends report, produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Public Health, points to a variety of recent studies that widen the lens on the national addiction crisis.

Ms. Amelia Arria, associate professor who directs the Center on Young Adult Health and Development in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, conducts NIDA-funded research on the prevalence and incidence of substance use and abuse among young adults. Her center supports the need to focus on people who are most susceptible to problematic substance use and addiction, and emphasizes that prevention efforts must start early in life and continue into young adulthood.

Highlights of the report “Widening the Lens on the Opioid Crisis” include:

“This research reinforces my strong belief that our nation’s approach to addiction must be more focused on people, and less on specific drugs,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Youth Continuum. “People who are prone to misusing substances generally have a wider vulnerability to all substances. But our tendency is to concentrate on one drug today, another drug tomorrow. All the while, the problem of risk has always been within us and not outside us.”

The report offers recommendations that could help put the brakes on the opioid crisis:

  1. Our education systems should develop the capacity to identify adolescents and young adults who engage in any substance use and route them to intervention programs.
  2. Physicians who prescribe opioids should comprehensively screen for patients’ drug histories and carefully monitor for signs of addiction in all patients.
  3. People with opioid use disorders should be provided comprehensive long-term addiction treatment that addresses all forms of substance use.
  4. Data systems should be developed to enable real-time surveillance of opioid overdose deaths so that programs and policies put into place to combat the epidemic can be evaluated. (Today, there is typically a two- to three- year lag between when an opioid-related death occurs and when it is recorded in national data systems.)

Emerging Drug Trends Report: “Widening the Lens on the Opioid Crisis”