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Framing the Issue

The skyrocketing rate of overdose deaths from an opioid — either a prescription medication or an illicit drug, such as heroin or fentanyl — is the most serious drug crisis the US has ever experienced. Certain regions of California have death rates approaching the highest in the country. CHCF is working with partners across the state to decrease opioid-related deaths by 20% by 2020.

The opioid epidemic has many causes, and there is not one simple intervention that will solve this issue. At CHCF we focus our work in three areas:

  1. Safer prescribing practices: Judicious and appropriate use of opioids, limiting new starts on long-term opioid therapy, and working with patients on high-dose or risky regimens to get to lower and safer doses.
  2. Medication-assisted treatment: Treatment with buprenorphine and other medications has been proven to be far more effective than treatment programs without medications. Medication-assisted treatment has lowered death rates, increased treatment retention, and improved quality of life.
  3. Overdose prevention: Naloxone, an overdose antidote, has been proven to reduce overdose deaths when made widely available in the community, especially to first responders, and when prescribed to patients who use heroin or who have been using opioids over the long term.

Our statewide partners include health leaders in multiple agencies at the state and county levels, health plans, provider groups, health systems, and more. Please visit CHCF's opioid safety page to see the range of our initiatives in this area.

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