ABA report focuses on opioid crisis

A new report about the opioid crisis in America is the outcome of the American Bar Association’s Senior Lawyers Division recent Opioid Summit in Chicago.

The report makes nine recommendations and suggests 45 action items, including recommending more education and training opportunities to leverage existing policies that protect people dealing with substance misuse and providing treatment for the under- and uninsured.

The report and its recommendations will be used to collaborate with other ABA entities to develop specific policy resolutions that address the opioid crisis. 

The Senior Lawyers Division plans to have a resolution approving the report’s recommendations and action items reviewed by the ABA House of Delegates as early as the ABA Midyear Meeting in January 2019.

The Opioid Summit, held in May, was sponsored by the American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division, and more than 20 entities within and outside the association. 

The goal of the summit was to effect change in three aspects of the opioid problem:

• The effects on the family, including intergenerational stress in confronting those who have fallen victim.

• Differences in addressing treatment of what the National Institute on Drug Abuses terms a long-term, treatable brain disease.

• Necessary changes to laws and policies surrounding those directly, and indirectly, affected.

The report also recommends several specific recommendations, including:

• Expanded access to treatment

• A closer look at inequities placing people at risk of opioid addiction.

• Greater focus on law school curriculums with trainings to include opioid and substance misuse disorders.

• Promoting policies and laws that support families and caregivers faced with this issue.

• Decriminalizing non-violent and low risk drug-related crimes in favor of alternative programs.

• Removing barriers for people to seek treatment.

“The epidemic is shortening American life expectancy, impacting local government budgets, straining family resources and relationships, and challenging all of us to find solutions,” said Jack Young, chair of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division.  “It affects all of us.”

The recommendations from the summit “include specific, meaningful, and practical solutions for the opioid crisis, which has been called the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history,” said Marvin Dang, chair-elect of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division and chair of the Opioid Summit.

“The legal profession is a critical partner in the collaborative effort with other professions to address the opioid crisis,” he said.

The report, “Experienced Lawyers, American Families, and the Opioid Crisis: Report of the Opioid Summit 2018,” can be found online at www.americanbar.org.

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