The Opioid Epidemic: How We Got Here and What We Can Do

illustration of pills in the shape of the United States

More than two million Americans have an opioid use disorder. Each day, more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose. That's nearly 50,000 people per year, on par with the number of Americans who die each year from the flu and pneumonia combined. Researchers, legislators and the public are asking, "How did we get here? And what can we do to help stop this epidemic?"

In this episode of Population Healthy, listen in as experts from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Michigan Medicine and the Kent County Health Department discuss the complex nature of the opioid epidemic in the United States, and explore possible ways to curb it, including safer and potentially more effective approaches to treating chronic pain, and policy considerations from prescription monitoring to medication-assisted treatment for people with opioid use disorders.

Listen to "The Opioid Epidemic: How We Got Here and What We Can Do" on Spreaker.

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In This Episode

Charles YunRachel Jantz

Public Health Epidemiologist - Opioids at Kent County Health Department

Rachel Jantz currently focuses on the opioid epidemic as an epidemiologist for the Kent County Health Department in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She works to enhance opioid-related surveillance in Kent County and serves as co-chair of the Kent County Opioid Task Force. Jantz received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2014. Learn more.


Mary Janevic

Mary Janevic

Associate Research Scientist, Health Behavior & Health Education

Mary Janevic is a faculty member of the University of Michigan's Center for Managing Chronic Disease. Her work focuses on interventions to promote self-care among individuals with chronic pain and other chronic illness, particularly older adults and women. Learn more.



Kevin Boehnke

Kevin Boehnke

Research Investigator, University of Michigan Department of Anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center

Kevin Boehnke’s current research interests include medical cannabis as an analgesic and opioid substitute in chronic pain, and self-management strategies for pain, such as yoga. Boehnke received a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Learn more.


Gary FreedRebecca Haffajee

Assistant Professor of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Rebecca Haffajee’s research combines detailed legal analyses with empirical investigations of the relationships between law and health. She substantively focuses in the behavioral health and pharmaceutical policy areas, evaluating policies such as mental health/substance abuse parity and laws intended to curb opioid addiction and misuse, such as prescription drug monitoring programs. Learn more.

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