For Immediate Release: November 8, 2018
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
“Elements of a Comprehensive Public Health Response to the Opioid Crisis” by Health Commissioner Mark Levine Published in Annals of Internal Medicine
BURLINGTON – In an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Vermont Department of Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD outlined six essential elements for addressing the nation’s opioid crisis.
"Elements of a Comprehensive Public Health Response to the Opioid Crisis," is co-authored with Dr. Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). In their article, Drs. Levine and Fraser recommend application of six essential elements for a more coordinated and comprehensive approach to stemming opioid use than is currently employed in the U.S.
The six elements, which are fully explained in their paper, include leadership, partnership and collaboration, epidemiology and surveillance, education and prevention, treatment and recovery, and harm-reduction. According to the authors, the complex nature of the opioid epidemic and its broad, pervasive and substantial impact on communities and society at large justify a multi-pronged set of strategies and solutions.
While the six elements are essential, the authors recognize that a seventh element may also play an important role in addressing the opioid crisis – enforcement. Enforcement lies outside of the public health approach, but Drs. Levine and Fraser acknowledge that law enforcement must be engaged to impact the drug supply, trafficking, and criminal activity that is contributing to the crisis. They also acknowledge there is a limited evidence-base for many of the prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts that currently comprise local, state, and federal responses to the opioid crisis and that more evaluation and assessment is needed.
As head of the agency charged with protecting and promoting the health of Vermonters, Dr. Levine draws from the state’s efforts targeting opioid and drug use disorders. Vermont has focused on building a multi-faceted public and private agency and community partnership approach, from which evidence-based programs, legislation and policies were developed. Many of these programs, such as Vermont’s Hub and Spoke system of care, are being adopted as models by other states.
Read the article: "Elements of a Comprehensive Public Health Response to the Opioid Crisis"
Learn more about Vermont’s approach to the opioid and substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery: healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs.
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