By Tammy Jo Hill
After a competitive application process, 25 state legislators from across the country were selected to join NCSL’s Opioid Policy Fellows Program for its fourth year.
The program enables legislators who are experienced or emerging leaders on opioid addiction and overdose to:
- Build knowledge about new research, policy and innovations.
- Exchange ideas and solutions with one another.
- Connect with leading researchers and policy experts.
- Identify practical information to use in their state moving forward.
“As chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of this public health crisis, explore the best practices in states across our country, and, in so doing, craft robust and innovative legislation for Delaware to prevent and treat substance use disorder and support our neighbors in recovery so that they can stay in recovery.”—Delaware Senator Sarah McBride (D).
Since 2018, 98 state legislators from 35 states have participated in the program. The Fellows introduced more than 100 bills and worked with countless state and local partners on opioid policies and programs. For example, several Fellows worked on State-wide Opioid Task Forces or introduced bills on naloxone, Syringe Service Programs, treatment and alternative treatment programs and prescription drug limits.
The current cohort kicked off the program with a virtual meeting in March. Legislators were introduced to current research regarding the opioid epidemic in conjunction with COVID-19, suicide, adverse childhood experiences and health disparities. Fellows had to the opportunity to hear from experts and exchange current legislative policies with one another. In May, the Fellows learned about recovery housing models, policy options and funding from the National Alliance of Recovery Residences.
"I am honored to be selected as an Opioid Policy Fellows member and look forward to working with fellow legislators from all over the nation who are proven leaders in addressing the opioid crisis we are facing. Drug abuse is not a crisis relative to one state, nor is a solution to it relative to any single policy. Justice Louis Brandeis popularized the phrase 'laboratories for democracy.' That is relevant in our fight against the opioid crisis. I think through communication and collaboration we will identify best practices, sound policies and will ultimately save lives. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to do so has never been greater."—Kentucky Senator Ralph Alvarado (R)
The cohort will meet again in September to discuss special populations and the opioid crisis, non-traditional partners like the criminal justice system, and the intersection of the opioid crisis with pregnant people, neonatal abstinence syndrome and neonatal opioid withdrawal.
For more information about this program please contact the health program.
This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $313,000 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. government.
Tammy Jo Hill is a policy specialist in NCSL's Health Program.
Email Tammy Jo.