Addressing Our Opiate Crisis

A Systems Level Process for Prevention and Treatment

Erin McClelland: Opiate Expert

Erin McClelland's Resume: Nearly Two Decades of Experience

  • University of Pittsburgh

    • Alcohol and Smoking Research Laboratory

  • St. Francis Medical Center

    • Addiction Services 

  • Pittsburgh Black Action, Inc.

    • Veteran & Youth Opiate Addition

  • Office of National Drug Control Policy 25 Cities Initiative: Opiate Addiction

  • SPHS Behavioral Health

    • Women and Family Program

  • Arche Wellness

    • Executive Director

The Problem

Addiction has been proven to be our most expensive, preventable healthcare issue. For years it was misconstrued as an issue that afflicts only poor and minority populations. Recent surges in overdose rates, deaths consisting of Americans from every race and socioeconomic status have slowly pushed the problem into the mainstream, far too late for basic prevention and treatment efforts to be effective.

Today, the opiate and addiction crisis has reached epidemic proportions, infiltrating all levels of government in multiple systems of our society. The United States experiences an average of 110 drug overdose deaths every day and overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the country.

Factors To Consider

"In 2014, there were approximately one and a half times more drug overdose deaths in the United States than deaths from motor vehicle crashes (4).
Opioids, primarily prescription pain relievers and heroin, are the main drugs associated with overdose deaths. In 2014, opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths, or 61% of all drug overdose deaths; the rate of opioid overdoses has tripled since 2000."
-Center for Disease Control: January 1, 2016 / 64(50);1378-82
  • Healthcare

  • Mental Health

  • Employment

  • Education

  • Poverty

  • Nutrition

  • Criminal Justice

  • Pharmaceuticals


Erin's Six Point Plan

1)     Changing the organizational culture of health care that focuses more on blame and cutting services than it does on improving overall performance,

2)     Addressing a payer structure that discourages innovative treatments and limits access,

3)     Taking on the pharmaceutical industry and reducing the treatment systems’ over-reliance on excessive medication at the expense of more comprehensive treatments,

4)     Moving the treatment process toward more advanced, multi-disciplinary programs for addiction,

5)     Emphasizing performance measurement and outcomes to advance the field and reward innovation, and

6)     Ending the wasteful, top-down, funding process for prevention and implementing customized, comprehensive, multidimensional prevention programs at the local level that pull resources from the top.