Your Role in Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Opioid misuse has drastically increased in the U.S. since the late 1990s, resulting in a devastating public health impact on communities and families. Opioid overdose fatalities continue to rise, and almost 12 million people misused prescription or illicit opioids in 2016. Given its widespread impact, adequate response to the opioid crisis will require involvement of the entire health care community. Psychology can play an essential role in the clinical response to this crisis. This role includes not only direct service provision to people with opioid use disorder, but also early identification of opioid misuse, support around safe medication storage and disposal, family supports, referral to treatment, treatment of pain, and prevention of opioid misuse. In 2017, a Cross-Divisional Taskforce was formed of members of APA Divisions 12, 28 and 50 to develop a guide on clinical responses to the opioid crisis. The outcome of this Taskforce is a series of brief resources on topics such as assessing opioid misuse, supporting families, facilitating treatment referrals, and overdose risks and response. This information is now available on the Division 12 website under the Resources tab (link here). Please make use of this information and consider how you can disseminate it to other professionals and those in direct need.

Blog entry by:

Kathryn McHugh, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Michael W. Otto, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University and Immediate Past President, Division 12, APA