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The opioid crisis continues to plague the United States with tens of thousands of lives lost every year and other significant health and social consequences. What began as an epidemic fueled by the pharmaceutical industry, the opioid crisis is now shaped by an illicit market of highly potent and increasingly dangerous opioids. A coordinated effort is needed to reduce opioid misuse and address the continuum from primary prevention to effective delivery of evidence-based care for those with opioid-use disorder. This presentation will review strategies that can be employed to reduce these harms, provide evidence supporting each intervention, and will discuss the role of stigma as it negatively impacts care and prevents expansion of and access to life-saving treatment. Dr. Walsh will review recent developments in pharmacotherapies for the treatment of opioid-use disorder as well as in expanding care for associated infectious disease, Hepatitis C virus. The presentation will end with a call for better coordination of policy across sectors and advocacy for reducing the stigma associated with opioid use disorder.
Sharon Walsh, Ph.D., Professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky and Director, Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, University of Kentucky College of Medicine