Evidence-Based Interventions to Address the Opioid Epidemic

Updated: Oct 16

24 Strategies for State, County and City Implementation




Addiction Policy Forum’s report, Evidence-Based Interventions to Address the Opioid Epidemic, features 24 evidence-based strategies and programs that state, county, and local policymakers can implement to combat the opioid crisis. The report highlights strategies and interventions across children and family services, patient services, systems improvements, and policy changes. The report includes actionable resources, research, model programs, and other information to help policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders improve practices and policies, institute solutions to the crisis, and bridge the gap between research and practice.


Evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery practices that have been proven for decades are drastically underutilized in the field of addiction. By advancing the uptake of evidence-based solutions, jurisdictions can drastically improve the response to addiction and change the trajectory of the opioid epidemic.


Through analysis and with input from scientists, researchers, practitioners, and families, Addiction Policy Forum identified 24 evidence-based practices that can be implemented at the state-, county-, and community-levels. The report spotlights local initiatives that have been implemented to address the opioid crisis, and can be scaled and replicated in communities throughout the country.


The project also includes a self-assessment tool that is designed to assist jurisdictions in evaluating the status of their current adoption of evidence-based practices and to help determine where to address gaps in efforts to combat the crisis. Support for the report and self-assessment tool was provided by Emergent BioSolutions.


Key recommendations that APF suggests policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders immediately address include:


  1. Expand Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder

  2. Increase Community Naloxone Distribution

  3. Initiate Treatment in Emergency Departments

  4. Medications for Opioid Use Disorder for Individuals in Prison and Jail

  5. Distribute Fentanyl Test Strips

  6. Expanding Support for Mothers with Opioid Use Disorder

  7. Implement Programs for Children Impacted by Parental Substance Use Disorders

  8. Expand Access to Syringe Service Programs

  9. Expand Access to Behavioral Therapies

  10. Expand Addiction Training for Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists

  11. Implement Child Welfare Interventions

  12. Implement Co-Responder and Community Responder Initiatives

  13. Screening for Substance Use Disorders in Pediatric and Primary Care

  14. Implement Diversion Programs across the Criminal Justice Systems

  15. Expand Reentry Services for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

  16. Screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

  17. Implement Student Assistance Programs in Middle and High Schools

  18. Expand Community Prevention Coalitions

  19. Ensure Support Group Access

  20. Recovery Community Organizations

  21. Eliminate Fail First Policies

  22. Implement Co-prescribing of Naloxone with Opioid Prescriptions

  23. Remove Fentanyl Test Strips from Drug Paraphernalia Laws

  24. Eliminate Prior Authorization


The full APF report can be accessed here.