Episode 13: Opioid Crisis

NASW Social Work Talks Podcast

David Stoecker, LCSW

Opioid addiction has become a public health crisis in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid; at least two-thirds of these were tied to opioids like painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl.

Our guest, David Stoecker, LCSW, is founder and director of Better Life in Recovery. He recommends that we look at the opioid addiction pandemic through a harm-reduction lens, rather than a punitive one. He argues that abstinence is not the only path to recovery and that we need to create healthy communities and to provide recovery support to those who need it.

Published Sept. 18, 2018

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Opiates in Our Backyard: Implications for Drug Policy

This NASW Social Justice Brief looks at the scope of the heroin-opioid epidemic, the bio-psychosocial implications of the crisis, and the national and international drug policy implications of the epidemic the important role that social
work can play in joining other stakeholders in addressing this public health crisis, and makes recommendations from a social work perspective.

Opioid Facts from the CDC

Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States:

  • From 1999 to 2016, more than 630,000 people died from a drug overdose.
  • Around 66% of the more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid.
  • In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 5 times higher than in 1999.
  • On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.


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