In a column published yesterday in The New York Times, public health researcher Austin Frakt discusses ways of attacking the deadly opioid crisis that save money, have tested with good results, and have a number of other benefits. They involve a combination of broad education and targeted intervention to discourage people from abusing addictive drugs to start with. This may sound like the old Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) programs of the past, but the new ideas appear to be more sophisticated and are borne out by research.
Obviously, it’s unlikely these programs will miraculously eliminate such a large and complicate problem. But if they can reduce the harm and do so at low-enough cost, they can be worth trying. A bonus is that it appears to be possible to reduce a spectrum of bad behaviors at once — not just drug use but bullying and some types of criminal behavior.
The Times article and the paper it references are briefly summarized by pediatrician and Indiana University professor Aaron Carroll in this video: