Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Harry Heiman

Second Advisor

Jim Kucik


Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that on average, 130 Americans die every day from opioid-related overdose. For the first time, more Americans are dying from opioids than from guns, car accidents or breast cancer. “Every 8 minutes, someone in America dies from a drug overdose; usually from opioids such as, heroin, illicit fentanyl, or oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and hydromorphine prescribed by doctors.” Specifically, prescription opioids account for approximately 40%-70% of fatal and non-fatal overdoses, and are frequently the first opioids encountered by individuals before transitioning to illicit drugs.

In response to this public health epidemic, a number of policies have been enacted to mitigate the problem. However, some policies may “prevent patients who need opioids from getting them, turn providers into policemen when patients seek opioids, and police providers themselves when they prescribe opioids.” Difficulty of accessing prescription opioids may contribute to increased demand for illegal narcotics, such as heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). Herein lies the challenge of reversing the opioid epidemic while ensuring access to safe opioid treatment.

This document reviews policy approaches to addressing the epidemic, and considers opportunities for evidence-based strategies.


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