Arresting those with opioid use disorder (OUD) is not the answer to battling the opioid epidemic enveloping our nation. The American Psychological Association (APA) strongly suggests focusing on evidence-based treatments to pull the country out of the grips of this opioid crisis. 

The Numbers Point to a Significant Need for Change

Our nation is in the middle of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. In 2016 alone, more than 64,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses, and over two-thirds of those deaths occurred because of opioids.

Although the United States is beginning to focus on and bring attention to the opioid epidemic, it is still not entirely adequate. Budget bills passed through Congress significantly increased by a few billion dollars, but it is not enough to meet the needs of this growing crisis.

Of course, this increase in federal funding is a positive step towards significant change, as long as the funds become used on proven and evidence-based treatment strategies. 

Areas We Should Focus on For Battling the Opioid Crisis

Psychological research finds and continues to uncover evidence-based treatments that deserve nation-wide distribution. The APA continues to appeal to policymakers to prioritize specific areas where psychology interventions may make a significant and positive contribution to the opioid crisis.

These specific areas include:

  • Providing continuous counseling services for individuals dealing with opioid use disorder (OUD)
  • Encouraging non-drug alternative treatments for chronic pain
  • Increasing access to pain management services
  • Increasing access to treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
  • Offering support services and opportunities for individuals in recovery, such as education, employment, and housing
  • Expanding the workforce of treatment providers and mental health workers, as well as more education and training to increase their effectiveness
  • Growing investments in research on ways to treat OUD, other substance use disorders (SUDs), and chronic pain
  • Refining and improving the availability of services and their quality 
  • Raising the number of drug courts which divert individuals from jail into treatment
Need Help?

Some proposals to battle the opioid crisis include imprisonment, mandatory minimum sentences for these drug offenses, and even execution for serious crimes related to opioids. However, arresting our country out of the opioid epidemic is not the answer.

History teaches us that this is a lose-lose situation and that we must focus on treating those who need help, rather than focusing on punishing them. SUDs, including OUD, is a disease, an illness, and it requires multidimensional treatments.


At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.