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Health leaders blame addiction for US opioid crisis

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 17 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4814
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. Washington, DC

Alternative pain treatment options, reducing overprescribing, and destigmatizing misuse were among the potential solutions to the US opioid epidemic cited by healthcare leaders in a panel discussion sponsored by the National Academy of Medicine on 16 October as part of its annual meeting.

“This is an addiction issue, not an opioid issue,” said panelist Kathleen Sebelius, the former US secretary of health.

“We know that mass incarceration and criminal justice have not solved the issues of either supply or demand, or cured individuals,” Sebelius said. “What we have done absolutely has failed miserably, for decades, and it costs a whole lot of money.”

“Treatment is essential,” she said in ticking off the first of five ways “to move the needle” toward a more effective response. Other points included best practice guidelines to rein …

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