Skip to main content

NCSL Welcomes 7th Cohort of Opioid Policy Fellows

Since 2018, over 100 legislators from 45 states have participated in the program for leaders on opioid addiction and overdose.

By Molly Widoff  |  February 14, 2024
John Fredrickson Nebraska
John-Michael Parker Connecticut

A competitive application process resulted in 25 legislators from across the nation  being chosen to participate in the seventh cohort of NCSL’s Opioid Policy Fellows Program. The 2024 cohort includes legislators with a wide range of expertise in medicine, law enforcement and small-business ownership.

The program enables legislators who are experienced or emerging leaders on opioid addiction and overdose to:

  • Learn about new research, policies 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.

Fellows started 2024 in New Orleans at the Opioid Policy Fellows Kickoff meeting. During the event, they networked and heard from experts on topics including the state of the opioid epidemic, prevention strategies, Medicaid, harm reduction and the behavioral health workforce. Additionally, fellows dedicated time to developing action plans aligned with their objectives.

“This was a great experience,” Nebraska Sen. John Fredrickson said. “I learned a lot, and I am walking away with a number of policy ideas as well as great connections that I feel I can reach out to.”

Some fellows expressed interest in bolstering insurance coverage for substance use disorder treatment, while others focused on increasing access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. Many fellows also expressed a desire to collaborate with law enforcement and to increase access to SUD treatment in jails and prisons. In their action plans, fellows set goals to utilize opioid settlement dollars, convene stakeholders, draft legislation and gather data through research.

“It is hard to describe just how helpful this event was,” said Connecticut Rep. John-Michael Parker, who serves as assistant majority leader. “I have often wished that I had this kind of primer as a legislator interested in these issues, and you all (NCSL) have done a great job of finally providing that! I love feeling confident in my understanding and ability to get information that I need. I feel more prepared for the session.”

Since 2018, over 100 legislators from 45 states have participated in the program.

For more information about the Opioid Policy Fellows, contact NCSL’s Health Program.

Molly Widoff is a policy analyst in NCSL’s Health Program.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of a financial assistance award totaling $464,000 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, the CDC/HHS or the U.S. government.

  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.