The drug-related overdose epidemic in the United States has escalated to alarming levels, with opioids, illicitly manufactured fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine being the primary culprits. Despite a decrease in opioid prescriptions for thirteen consecutive years, the rate of overdose and death related to these drugs continues to rise. New challenges have also emerged in the form of xylazine and other toxic synthetic adulterants.
The American Medical Association Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force is working tirelessly to develop evidence-based recommendations for policymakers and physicians to combat this crisis. Although progress has been made in recent years with physicians taking positive actions, the growth of harm reduction services, and policy advancements, these efforts are undermined by inadequate implementation and enforcement of policies that promote affordable, accessible, and evidence-based care for patients with substance use disorders, pain, or those needing harm reduction services like naloxone, syringes, and fentanyl test strips.
Disturbingly, certain populations are disproportionately affected. Black and Brown communities, pregnant individuals, and youth are dying at increasing rates compared to other population groups, highlighting the need for targeted interventions in these communities.