In the US, “the illicit drug use estimate for 2016 continues to be driven primarily by marijuana use [now legal in some states] and the misuse of prescription pain relievers,” according to a September 2017 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report containing results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In 2016, 11.8 million people ages twelve and older misused opioids (11.5 million of those misused pain relievers, and 948,000 used heroin). As for alcohol use, 16.3 million Americans ages twelve and older reported “heavy” use—that is, “binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past 30 days.”

Finding good treatment for a substance use disorder can be challenging. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism launched “a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use tool” called the Alcohol Treatment Navigator “to help individuals and their loved ones navigate the often-complicated process of choosing treatment,” according to an October 2017 press release. The navigator aims to help the public find appropriate, high-quality care.

And a December 2017 Health Affairs article by Noa Krawczyk and coauthors, all from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, looked at adults who, because of opioid use, are referred to specialty treatment programs by the criminal justice system across the United States. The authors report that in 2014 only 4.6 percent of this population received “the highest standard of treatment”—methadone or buprenorphine, which are opioid agonist therapies—and comment that this finding indicates a missed opportunity to deliver “effective, evidence-based care.”

In October 2017 President Donald Trump said that his administration “is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law,” and he directed “all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority” to fight the crisis. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America announced a multiyear, multimillion-dollar initiative that includes partnering with the Addiction Policy Forum to fund state and local programs, according to a December 2017 press release.

Many foundations are striving to make an impact. In December 2017 the Chronicle of Philanthropy highlighted Claire Fiddian-Green, who leads the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, as someone who is “quietly changing the nonprofit world.” This foundation funds organizations serving the greater Indianapolis, Indiana, area. It made a $700,000 grant to Eskenazi Health Foundation to try to change what often happens after patients leave the emergency department (ED) following an opioid overdose, the article says. Specifically, first responders, ED staff, and mental health providers have begun working together to help connect this population to ongoing treatment or other supports. The Chronicle reports that Fiddian-Green is pressing peer organizations to help tackle the opioid epidemic. The field of philanthropy has been criticized in the past for “its slow response” to the crisis, the article notes.

Following is a sampling of foundations that have supported efforts to stem the tide of substance use in the US.

Continue reading the Health Affairs article here.