Data & Evidence

Legal barriers to buprenorphine, a vital tool in managing recovery and preventing opioid overdose death

One of the key tools for combatting the opioid overdose epidemic, which claimed more than 100,000 lives in the last year, is the use of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). MOUD is a treatment approach that uses medications to relieve withdrawal systems or, in the event of a relapse, block the effects of opioids. MOUD is a vital tool to help individuals dealing with opioid use disorder (OUD) manage their recovery, and is considered the gold standard for treatment. 

Six Opportunities to Use the Law to Support Harm Reduction

Harm reduction in the context of the opioid crisis is focused on preventing overdose and infectious disease transmission by working with people who use drugs without moral judgment. Far too often, the public health imperative of harm reduction is blocked by federal policy, state laws, and other structural barriers anchored in the “war on drugs” that reduce the effectiveness of harm reduction efforts. To maximize the potential of harm reduction requires a whole-of-government approach, involving coordination across levels of government.

Seven Opportunities to Use the Law to Address Drug Policy

There is a well-established whole of government response to drug policing centered around the “war on drugs.” However, the existing response is largely built on flawed policies that have resulted in mass incarceration, structural racism, and lagging improvements in treatment and harm reduction related to the opioid crisis. Policy changes must be considered to replace acknowledged failures and reimagine the whole of government response to drug policing.

Five Opportunities to Use the Law to Address Persistent OUD Treatment Gaps

People who need opioid use (OUD) treatment in the United States are often not receiving it—at least two million people with OUD are experiencing a treatment gap that prevents or hampers their ability to receive life-saving care and support. This reality reflects structural, policy, and legal misalignments common to the entire US health care system, but that are especially present for behavioral health needs like substance use, and are exacerbated by other challenges related to stigma, lack of employment, and fragmented or nonexistent care coordination.

New Legal Data: 2023 Bills Relating to Vaccines in Schools and Provider Scope of Practice

Act for Public Health's October Legislative Update covered the newly released vaccine bill tracking data from the Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research (CPHLR), highlighting trends and examples across the widespread legal activity surrounding vaccine law during the 2023 legislative session.  

Author Q&A: Good Samaritan Laws and Policy Surveillance

Shane Reader from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, recently published research in Drug and Alcohol Dependence that reveals patterns in implementation, facilitates future evaluations, and produces a roadmap for the dimension reduction of further policy surveillance datasets related to harm reduction and drug use. 

One year after Dobbs, an increasingly risky landscape of abortion access

June 24, 2023, marks one year since the US Supreme Court upended the limited constitutional protection of abortion afforded by Roe v. Wade. Now, the legal status of abortion varies even more drastically across the nation, compromising equitable access to this essential health care. While some states have moved to ban abortion outright, others have enacted measures attempting to protect and expand access. 


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