Symposium Discusses the Causes and Evolution of the Opioid Crisis
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Centers for Disease Control says nearly 48,000 people will die this year in the United States from opioid overdoses - one person, every six minutes. On Friday, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia held a symposium to explore the causes, evolution, and responses of the opioid crisis.
Scholars in multiple fields, both from the University of Virginia and across the country are taking a different approach to address opioid addiction.
"We have the hard medical model which sees addiction as a brain disease, and then what you might call more relational models, that bring in more holistic contexts of persons and communities,” said Joseph Davis, program chair.
They spoke about how the crisis is affecting policing, religious, political, and health systems, and how they can tackle the problem together.
"We've got psychiatrists. We got physicians, theologians, anthropologists, etc., and I’m a sociologist. It really requires not one way of thinking about a problem. It requires not one little discipline or one way of thinking about the problem, but a more comprehensive vision,” said Davis.
While new laws and initiatives are cracking down on the number of opioids being prescribed, new issues are arising.
"One of the things in particular that we're seeing in Iowa and in a lot of other places around the country is that methamphetamine is becoming an injection drug. So, that's one of the things that have really changed as a result of opioids,” said William Garriott, Drake University.
The institute says that it hopes the holistic view they're taking in examining the crisis inspires others to do the same. They also hope that responses to the crisis go beyond just limiting access to the drugs.
"This isn't a problem of some aberrant people but is really a sign of conditions that have gone awry, especially in rural communities, and that there's a real need for more than just sending doctors to these places but to really respond to their social and economic welfare,” said Davis.
The symposium was part of the institute's Picturing the Human Colloquy. That program encourages researchers to remember the people at the heart of social issues like this one.