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UNC School of Medicine student Nakisa Sadeghi co-wrote a commentary published in The Lancet in the titled “The opioid crisis and the 2020 US election: crossroads for a national epidemic.”

“Health care is a major point of differentiation in the upcoming US presidential elections. One priority area is the opioid crisis. In 2019, reported deaths from drug overdose in the USA reached an all-time high of almost 72000,with opioids involved in more than two-thirds of the total deaths. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult situation by reducing access to life-saving treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, while increased stress and isolation might increase the risk of addiction and substance use disorders (SUDs).

“As of July, 2020, deaths from drug overdose in the USA rose by an estimated 13% in the first half of the year compared with 2019, according to data compiled from several local and state governments. In some states, drug-related deaths climbed by over 30%.

“The pandemic has also triggered an economic recession that threatens the survival of some addiction treatment centres, and is expected to exacerbate social barriers such as housing instability, which can further hinder treatment of SUDs. Against this backdrop, the presidential candidates propose divergent policy solutions to counter the opioid epidemic. There are three major differences.”

Read the rest of the commentary, co-written by Leana Wen at George Washington University.