experts agree on prioritizing immediate emergency response efforts to curb the growing opioid epidemic but treatment should also be a focus because long-term opioid addiction treatment reduces risks of overdose.
“Not just in the U.S. but in most parts of the world where opioids are a major problem, we need to scale up availability of science-based treatment for opioid use disorders, overdose prevention measures and to treat drug use as a public health concern rather view this from a moralistic or criminal justice perspective. We need to address drug use disorders as any chronic health condition and help people with that perspective.”
Niaz added that although the numbers recently released by the UNODC are alarming, American leaders have been making efforts to address the country’s drug problem in ways that can be used as examples by the rest of the world.
“The U.S. Surgeon General’s report is an excellent read, a way forward to address the opioid problem in the U.S. and can be used as an example for other countries. [We have to] address the stigma but also educate policymakers and practitioners that this is a public health issue. Drug use disorder is a health condition which needs to be treated the same way as you would treat someone with diabetes.”