New AJ Teams Attack Opioid Crisis

a lot of pills, none of which are probably opioids, because those are usually whiteIn 2016, over 2,000 California residents were killed by opioid overdose. Opioid overpresciption remains rampant, and in many cases neither patients nor prescribers know how to deal with unused medication. Initiation starts early; over 15% of high school juniors had used precription drugs recreationally, and the majority of students felt no or minimal peer pressure to avoid diverted prescription drugs.

Most of us are aware of the problem, and most of us worry there is no solution. However, Alcohol Justice knows there is one. To get there, California needs to promote institutional imagination, push effective legislation, and make quality prevention education available to everyone.

Joining AJ in this vision, Dr. Ramon Castellblanch, a long-time professor of public health at San Francisco State and current president of Quality Healthcare Concepts, has taken on the challenge of tracking, tagging, and evaluating opioid-related legislation. You may have noticed his opinions shared on the front page, in our "GUEST VOICES" space. He has also been hard at work compiling a list of opioid-related legislation, which we have posted on the AJ website. Like our Alcohol Legislation Tracker, the Opioid Legislation Tracker summarizes bills and gives a position when appropriate. We strongly enourage both concerned individuals and allied organizations to make use of these data and push for tangible, lasting solutions.

In addition to Dr. Castellblanch's work, Alcohol Justice and Youth for Justice (YFJ) have obtained a grant from the Office of National Drug Control policy to promote opioid abuse prevention in the San Rafael area. Through community collaboration, YFJ will provide 1) outreach to the Canal District and other vulnerable neighborhoods in the area, and 2) inreach to San Rafael schools, getting peer educators involved in changing the perceptions of recreational prescription drugs. Meanwhile, Alcohol Justice is working with local agencies to promote effective therapeutic strategies, increase drug disposal resources, and break down barriers facing those seeking treatment.

As 2019 opens, we are optimistic that the tide will turn. After all, if this one small organization (and one big California community) can vex Big Alcohol, then its hard for us to call any problem unsolvable.

READ MORE from Dr. Castellblanch about Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).