The opioid addiction and overdose death epidemics have caused over 500,000 deaths and untold suffering in the US since 1999. Our market-driven medical care system and Big Pharma played a large role in creating this crisis and continue to impede effective medical and public health responses to this worsening crisis.
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has been a national leader for decades in exposing the racialized War on Drugs and the resulting mass incarceration of overwhelmingly Black and other people of color.
Sheila Vakharia, PhD, MSW of DPA discusses the strategy and growing success of the grassroots movement to end draconian drug laws in the U.S. Medical cannabis programs continue to expand and a growing number of states, including NY and NJ, are legalizing adult use of cannabis. Oregon recently became the first US state to decriminalize possession of small quantities of all drugs and to offer a public health approach to drug use. Other states will soon follow suit.
Kyle R. MacDonald, MD, MPH, CPH addresses how Canada’s province based single payer health program has responded to Canadian opioid problems by embracing humane and evidence-based harm reduction approaches. He also provides insight into how NYC currently addresses this crisis.
We also heard from Casey Hayner, a leader with the VOCAL-NY Albany program on how consumers are impacted by the current system, and how the COVID-19 upheaval has exacerbated a crisis that was already steadily rising.
Kyle R. MacDonald, MD, MPH, CPH - Senior Program Lead, CDC Opioid Crisis Response Technical Assistance Program, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Sheila Vakharia, PhD - Deputy Director, Research and Academic Engagement, Drug Policy Alliance
Casey Hayner - VOCAL-NY Albany Leader
Sophie Miro Fortier MD, CCFP - Family and Palliative Care Physician, Mount Sinai Doctors Stuyvesant Town, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Bruce Trigg, MD - Consultant on Medication for Opioid Use Disorder, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Coordinated Behavioral Care, Inc.; Board member, Physicians for a National Health Program - New York Metro