There are almost 175 drug overdose deaths per day in the United States – right now. It is a stunning number. There is an incredible amount of resources going towards treatment and prevention. And that should be a good thing, right?
It doesn’t feel that way.
It feels like we’re throwing everything we’ve got towards the problem to try to solve it, but it’s not clear how intentional it is. A great example: I read the article, “Building Partnerships to Combat the Opioid Crisis” and was interested to read the approach supported by the Milken Institute. The article argues that “public-private partnerships that align around the single goal of reversing opioid misuse and heroin use are needed now more than ever to produce comprehensive approaches that change the trajectory of the future of health.” It goes on to talk about the launch of a new nationwide initiative to educate and empower students with facts to help them better understand the science behind opioids’ impact on the brain and body. While that is commendable, it doesn’t feel that new. In fact, I know of a similar project underway.
I recognize that we can’t stop the prevention and treatment efforts right now. But there are some entities and initiatives that and – and should – hit the “pause” button. Stop and reassess. Think smarter. Think about how to leverage resources and partnerships. Think about how to stop duplicating efforts.
Funders have a role to play as well. I do not think forced collaboration and partnerships will necessarily yield to positive results. However, funders can connect the dots. By first convening amongst themselves to understand who is funding what within a region or community, they can collectively communicate that information to their applicants and grantees. We need strategic learning circles that provide specific calls to action. We need opportunities to come together – and not pontificate but focus on what we are doing, and what we should be doing. Let’s maximize our opportunities to do better.