“Has fentanyl peaked?” is the wrong question.

On May 21, the New York Times published an article titled “Has Fentanyl Peaked?” The premise is that the “opioid crisis…may finally be turning around” based on the fact that preliminary data from the CDC shows that drug overdose deaths slightly declined in 2023, now down to 107,543 estimated deaths

(Podcast) Nashville’s Overdose Co-Response Unit Brings Harm Reduction to Law Enforcement

Click here to listen on Spotify As the drug overdose deaths continue to climb, we have heard more and more Sheriffs and law enforcement officers across the state say “we can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem.” That the criminal justice system plays an important role, but not the only

(Podcast) Decoding Autopsies: What Medical Examiners See That Others Miss

Click here to listen on Spotify When the CDC reports that almost 4,000 Tennesseans died of a drug overdose in 2023, it can be easy to forget that each one of those numbers represents a human being that was found deceased, investigated by law enforcement, and analyzed by a medical

(Podcast) How Peer Recovery Patches Treatment Gaps

If you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that there is strong evidence for the effectiveness of addiction treatment, and that the biggest obstacle we face in combating the overdose crisis is an overall lack of access to that treatment. Health insurance is of course a

(Podcast) What’s Happening with the Opioid Abatement Settlements?

New podcast episode: What's happening with the opioid settlements?

Starting with the multiple guilty pleas from Purdue Pharma in 2020, thousands of lawsuits across the country have lead to a series of settlements from numerous pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their role in the opioid crisis. From just the first and second wave of settlements with Cardinal Health, Janssen,

(Podcast) Organizational Failure: How Bad Business Caused the Opioid Crisis

New podcast episode: Organizational failure; how bad business caused the opioid crisis

Purdue Pharma. Johnson and Johnson. CVS. Walgreens. I could keep going. Drug manufacturers and distributors have rightly come under scrutiny in light of the opioid abatement settlements. As these companies start paying hundreds of millions of dollars out across the country, in an effort to try to make up for

(Podcast) Methamphetamine and the Overdose Crisis

SMART Policy Podcast: Meth's Role in the Overdose Crisis.

We are now in the fourth wave of the overdose crisis. Fentanyl is the still the most common drug involved in these deaths, but stimulants, primarily methamphetamine, is increasingly prevalent. In fact, the vast majority of all overdose deaths now involve multiple drugs. Meth, cocaine, heroin; worse still, newer contaminants

(Podcast) The New CDC Guidelines: Correcting Past Mistakes

SMART Policy Podcast: New CDC Prescription Guidelines: Correcting Past Mistakes, featuring Clay Jackson, MD.

At the end of 2022, the CDC released new prescribing guideline for opioids, replacing their last set from 2016. Excluding patients with cancer and other terminal illnesses, this guideline strongly emphasizes alternatives to opioids and urges extreme caution for physicians considering new opioid prescriptions, while also recommending how to appropriately

Guest Column: Telehealth can help thousands of recovering Tennesseans by adding more online medical providers

A doctor in a white coat holds a cell phone.

Read the full article at The Tennessean. In 2020, there were only 1,007 providers in Tennessee capable of prescribing buprenorphine, a safe and effective medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).  However, in that same year it was estimated that at least 70,000 Tennesseans had OUD. While this

New Policy Brief: Opioid Overdose Deaths in Tennessee

Chart depicting overdose deaths involving multiple drugs.

Read the full policy brief here. Key Points Opioid overdose deaths (ODD) are best understood as three phases: first due to prescription opioid misuse, followed by a rise in heroin use, and currently due to contamination by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Each phase has posed unique policy challenges. Numerous

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