Every overdose death is preventable.

We advance policy actions that save lives and stop overdose deaths.

The Problem

The devastating loss of life by overdose — more than one million Americans dead since 1999 — is made even more tragic because each of these deaths was entirely preventable.

Gaps and inequalities in the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and harm reduction systems persist. In the United States, the likelihood of surviving an overdose or accessing SUD treatment depends on race, income level, and location.

The federal government can act now to prevent overdose deaths and ensure that there is "no wrong door" for people seeking treatment for SUD.



People in the U.S. have opioid use disorder (OUD).


People died from overdose over the last year.

ONLY 11%

Of people with OUD received FDA-approved medication for OUD in 2020.

Our Mission

At the Overdose Prevention Initiative, we believe that comprehensive support for SUD is within reach, and by advancing federal policies that address the disparities, inequities, and stigma in the SUD treatment system, we can make a difference in the lives of people across the U.S. and prevent overdose deaths.

  Promote accessible, low-threshold treatment for SUD

  Remove barriers that create inequities in the treatment system

  Decrease stigma and improve public perception of help-seeking

Policy Goals

The death toll from the overdose crisis continues to climb, affecting families and communities across the United States. But overdose deaths are preventable — there are evidence-based solutions to the crisis, and the future increases in the overdose death rate are not a foregone conclusion.

We believe that strategic actions from Congress and the administration are key to overcoming the overdose crisis in the United States. Through deliberate and meaningful legislation, regulation, and funding, the federal government can set the stage for state and local organizations to provide treatment and overdose prevention support and save lives.



Improve access to MOUD

Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are evidence-based forms of treatment that save lives and prevent overdose deaths. Policies that improve access to SUD treatment are key to reversing the overdose crisis.

We support policies that:

  • Increase availability of MOUD at key entry points, such as in prisons and emergency departments, and move toward a future in which people who experience non-fatal overdoses have ready access to MOUD.
  • Eliminate federal regulatory barriers to MOUD.
  • Expand access to methadone, a proven effective but restricted MOUD.
  • Expand initiation into treatment for incarcerated people at all times during detention, including pre-trial and after release.
  • Make permanent the telehealth and telephone provisions for buprenorphine and methadone treatment under federal COVID-19 public health emergency guidelines.



Reduce disparities, inequities, and stigma

Inequity in the United States has a devastating effect on people touched by the overdose crisis. Data show that the likelihood of dying from an overdose is linked to an individual’s race, income level, insurance status, and ZIP code. Stigma against people with SUD further discourages treatment-seeking and prevents recovery.

We support policies that:

  • Support wraparound services, like housing, career support, and other social services, for people with SUD.
  • Promote widespread availability of MOUD, thereby increasing the visibility of people in recovery and reducing the stigma around SUD.
  • Ensure enforcement of regulations and legislation that lessen stigma and prevent discrimination, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.



Support harm reduction approaches to substance use disorder

Harm reduction is a proven approach to reduce the overdose death rate, prevent the spread of diseases associated with drug use, and encourage people with SUD to seek treatment.

We advance policies that:

  • Support harm reduction approaches to substance use, including expanded distribution of naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and syringe service programs.
  • Improve the ability of harm reduction organizations and practitioners to purchase and distribute naloxone, a life-saving drug that reverses overdoses.
  • Further integrate harm reduction into the system of care in the United States.
  • Eliminate federal regulatory and funding barriers to evidence-based harm reduction methods.
  • Educate key decision-makers on harm reduction’s proven effectiveness and scientific basis.

Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT: Ben Orton-Vipond | bvipond@advocacyincubator.org | (202) 481-9707