The well-organized, specific, fact-based web pages and publications from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) promise useful information and hope to communities that are getting serious about opioid addiction.
The data set provided there, however, is alarming:
- Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
- Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
- An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
- About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
The question repeated in earlier posts still comes to mind on a first tour of these fine pages. They tend to see the problem as one to be solved by experts, researchers, legislators, medical practitioners, as in this listing of five vital priorities:
- improving access to treatment and recovery services
- promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs
- strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
- providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
- advancing better practices for pain management
But what is the role of the general public–either providing insights and expressing their understanding of community needs, as well as being the audience for a variety of publications carefully crafted to meet the needs of different parts of the population, such as teachers, students, social workers, legislators, and so forth. So far I’m still seeing a gap in the articles I have been able to find, a gap in understanding the need to publish effectively–differently, adaptively–for all constituencies.