Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) recently participated in and sponsored the 2021 virtual Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. This annual event, now in its 10th year, brought together a wide range of policymakers and industry stakeholders to discuss solutions to the national addiction crisis.
President Biden and Federal Officials Share Insights on Prescription Opioid Epidemic
During the opening session, President Biden described the impact that COVID-19 has had on opioid misuse as families spent more time at home than ever before. Drawing on his own family’s experience, President Biden explained how addiction touches families in every community across the U.S. He shared that his administration is committed to facing the challenge head-on, noting that “the crisis is national, but the struggle is personal — deeply personal.” At the same time, the president outlined his proposed policy plans to allocate additional funding towards opioid-related treatments through the coronavirus relief package, The American Rescue Plan.
In addition to hearing from President Biden, participants were fortunate to gain key insights regarding opioid risk reduction strategies, the impact of COVID-19, and emerging policy efforts addressing the opioid crisis. Notable speakers included Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky; National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis S. Collins; U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, representatives from the Drug Enforcement Administration and more than a dozen members of Congress.
Panel Discussions Feature Leaders in Opioid Abuse and Misuse Prevention
Throughout the Summit, panel discussions brought together leaders in prevention and treatment, including those facilitating collaborations between state and national organizations working to combat opioid abuse. One such collaboration included an effort led by The Short Hills Surgery Center in Millburn, New Jersey, and Community in Crisis, a non-profit organization focused on educating the community about the use and misuse of Rx opioids. Together, the two organizations partnered with DisposeRx to launch a program allowing patients to safely dispose of any unused opioids at home.
Other panel discussions focused on best practices for the safe disposal of prescription opioids, touching on the importance of removing the stigma surrounding substance abuse as well as improving educational resources for prescribers and pharmacy staff. Community leaders also described the impact that COVID-19 has had on the safe disposal of opioids, with providers increasing prescription quantities to reduce visits and limit COVID exposure over time. As more Americans become vaccinated, it will remain important to address these challenges and develop further tools to facilitate at-home disposal.
AAOA Shares Educational Resources in Virtual Booth
AAOA hosted a virtual exhibit booth for attendees, which included a polling feature. Nearly 70 percent of attendees who visited the booth indicated that their doctor or pharmacist has never spoken to them about safe storage or disposal of prescription opioids. AAOA shared our resources with attendees, including:
AAOA is eager to put the lessons learned during the Summit to good use and thanks the organizers for another successful event. Together with our 20 national partners, we remain dedicated to educating patients, providers, pharmacists and the public about what they can do to help prevent future instances of prescription opioid misuse and abuse.
The 11th Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit is scheduled for April 18-21, 2022, in Atlanta.