The Pain Opioid Epidemic Project (The Project) is an experiment in citizen engagement inspired by the belief that we as citizens must engage with our fellow citizens and relevant stakeholders to achieve solutions to the challenges that face our communities and our nation. The Project's primary goal is to address the political system and the role of the citizen within it, the challenges of the system will be taken as a given and the presentation will focus on the actual aspects and problems associated with the pain opioid epidemic. In addition to the symptoms associated with opioid use and the pain management, The Project focuses on the underlying “symptoms of the diseases of the US political system”. These symptoms are an epiphenomena for a more virulent if not “mortal disease” of the US body politic. The environment that maintains the veracity of the symptom is the political/ economic reality (Democracy-Capitalism) can lead to despair/ alienation, marginalization, hopelessness, helplessness. It sets a spotlight on the cause and offers a “treatment” citizen oriented approach to underlying challenges in the US body politic.
The Project provides a framework to address the opportunities we as a country can embrace to address the challenges of the opioid crisis. The project/ series will explore the challenges, barriers and opportunities associated with the opioid crisis on the individual, local , state and federal levels. The effort is based on viewing the symptoms associated with opioid crisis as symbols of the social, cultural and political pathology in the US. As such, the societal response to the challenge offer a way to explore the political system, its limitations and most importantly, examine the potential for citizen involvement in their ecosystem. The framework and experience will inform and enhance citizen based skills to apply to other societal tools. For example, we address a few challenges and discuss the potential to inform a broader discussion of the health care system and other social political challenges.
The Project is informed by the recognition that despite efforts on the international, national, state and local levels and billions of dollars spent, the opioid epidemic continues to worsen. It is not for lack of motivation, data, resources, best practice that there has been little impact on the epidemic. A more complex set of barriers exist to effectively change the course of this epidemic. The Project seeks to explore ways to better understand and treat the various drivers of the epidemic and their consequences. More specifically The Project provides meaningful solutions and ways to manifest them that address the entire Opioid Ecosystem, including: pain management, opioid use disorders, opioid overdoses, public policy, law enforcement, criminal justice and related challenges.
The Project identifies current efforts to address the challenge on federal, state and local levels. Additionally, it will highlight barriers to comprehensive approach to address the challenge, to highlight and exercise, citizen action within the Pain Opioid Ecosystem. It is our plan to build on the experience with The Project to apply the lessons to other challenges facing our society, communities and political culture. The Project is an ambitious multi-phase undertaking that has as its goal to achieve best practice outcomes for individuals within the pain opioid ecosystem.
Viewing the entire opioid ecosystem and addressing the interconnected elements provide an excellent framework to test a “citizen centric” approach to address the problems facing our nation. More specifically, the challenge of pain opioid epidemic is best understood from the complexity/ ecosystem lens. Exploring and understanding the pain opioid ecosystem, the various stakeholders, their interaction and the dynamics driving and maintaining the various issues provides potential “solutions” at the various levels of the complex ecosystem.
More directly The Project tests the hypotheses that citizens, provided with an organizing format*, information and tools can be trusted to and should be involved in solving complex social problems. The Project is informed by the recognition that despite efforts on the international, national, state and local levels and billions of dollars spent, the opioid epidemic continues to worsen. It is not for lack of motivation, data, resources, best practice that there has been little impact on the epidemic. A more complex set of biological factors, economic and political barriers and interest groups exist and must be overcome to effectively change the course of this epidemic. The challenge of pain and related opioid use requires a well formulated, coordinated effort that addresses the complexity of the pain-opioid ecosystem*, the social determents contributing to it, and the interconnection of the multiple stakeholders (government (Federal, State, Local), the medical system, nonprofits, as well as private industry, academic institutions, and social agencies).
The Project identifies current efforts to address the challenges on federal, state and local levels. Additionally it highlights barriers to comprehensive approach to address the challenge, as a way to facilitate citizen action within the Pain Opioid Ecosystem. More specifically, our goal is to provide a multi element framework that supports individuals (as citizens, patients and consumers), and social systems to achieve the right care for the right person at the right location at the right cost. It is our plan to build on the experience with the opioid project to apply the lessons to other challenges facing our society, communities and political culture. We believe that an engaged citizenry, informed, passionate and respectful, is essential not only for our democratic process, but also to achieve result that reflect the “common good” and achieve greatness for our nation.
The Project builds on the fundamental tools for representative democracy; an engaged citizenry, participating in a deliberative public dialogue process based on reliable information. It explores and challenges the healthcare system, criminal justice system and social institutions to identify and address the problems and powerful barriers that must be targeted in order to achieve our goal. It addresses the interconnected challenges that are making the status quo unsustainable, and offers a path to a brighter future for our nation. The Opioid Project recognizes that a multi-stakeholder, comprehensive public health approach to combating the nation’s prescription opioid abuse and growing synthetic opioids and heroin epidemic is crucial.
The pain opioid epidemic touches all of us to varying degrees. Some of us are struggling with a family member who is in the hell of opioid addiction, others suffer with severe pain and fear the lack of availability of opioids for relief, others are dependent on opioids prescribed for minor trauma, still others are in treatment for the disease of opioid dependence. It is up to all of us to prevent and reduce abuse, misuse, overdose and death from prescription drugs while at the same time making sure that those suffering with pain receive effective, safe evidence-based care.
Our approach recognizes that any meaningful solution must address the entire arc of the opioid ecosystem, including: the individual, social and political focus. It needs to explore prevention, recognition, diagnosis and treatment related to pain management, opioid use disorders, opioid overdoses. This includes the scientific, medical, public policy, social, economic, law enforcement, criminal justice, and related challenges.
The Project consists of a number of phases and elements that address the complexity of the Pain Opioid Ecosystem and the barriers to meaningful change. The focus of the phases is to better understand the political aspects of the epidemic and to provide solutions to the various aspects of the challenge of pain and its management, opioid use and abuse, preventing overdoses and addressing the legal and criminal justice issues associated with drug use. We provide and explore meaningful information and tools for crowd-sourcing citizen participation in the policy discussion, implementation, and accountability of stakeholders. In addition, we incorporate behavioral economic principles, digital technology, political insights, crowd-sourcing, and principles of solution journalism in our effort.
The treatment plan provides a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder and multi-phase road map for citizen involvement in their political ecosystem, locally and nationally. Our goal is to provide a framework, a platform of sorts, to tackle an epidemic that has claimed many lives. It is our plan to build on the experience with The Project to apply the lessons to other challenges facing our society, communities, and political culture. Using the Opioid Project as a framework we invite fellow citizens to join our efforts. To explore the possibility that utilizing a citizen oriented toolbox, supported by meaningful information and tools, and a process that facilitates engagement with various levels of societal and political stakeholders, we can have a positive impact on difficult, complex challenges facing our nation.