Interactives, stories, and collections that go beyond the data

The Growing Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic is a public health emergency that is part of a larger problem of untreated substance use disorder in both rural and urban areas in the United States. In 2015, drug overdoses surged to a new high: 52,404 deaths, 63 percent of which involved an opioid. We know too little about which policies are effective at combating this epidemic—and which policies might be counterproductive—across an increasingly diverse group of affected communities.

Urban Institute researchers are committed to addressing this knowledge gap and ensuring that those on the front lines of policy and practice are equipped with timely, actionable research and insight.

By drawing on Urban experts from the health, justice, and safety net policy fields, we are uniquely positioned to detect emerging problems and risks, monitor policy changes, and identify and evaluate innovative solutions. Our ability to work across disciplines is one of Urban’s key strengths and allows us take a comprehensive approach to tackling this issue on multiple fronts.

Podcast: Treating the opioid crisis 

Episode nine of Urban Institute's Critical Value podcast focuses on medical treatments for opioid addiction, including buprenorphine and methadone. These drugs are proven to help people in recovery—so why aren’t they reaching everyone who needs them? Host Justin Milner talks to health policy expert Lisa Clemans-Cope about the evidence behind these treatments, the barriers to access, and the evolution of the opioid crisis.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tracking medicaid-covered prescriptions to treat opioid use disorder

This project examines prescriptions and spending on three medications approved for OUD and overdose treatment: buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone.


California county fact sheets: treatment gaps in opioid-agonist medication assisted therapy (OA-MAT) and estimates of how many additional prescribers are needed

Screenshot of California County Map



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