The Opioid Crisis in America

Learn about the opioid epidemic in the United States, including information about treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.

March 2017 - Self-Paced Enroll Now

About this course

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as powerful pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and many others.

In this course, you will learn about opioid use and addiction and how it has evolved over time, leading to the current public health crisis in the United States. Course participants will learn about:

  • Medical and non-medical use of opioids, including heroin and fentanyl
  • How to manage pain with and without opioids
  • The risks and neurological pathways to opioid addiction
  • The individual, social, and economic impacts of addiction
  • The latest harm reduction approaches that law enforcement and public health officials are using to reduce overdose deaths
  • Empathic evidence-based behavioral approaches and effective medications that health care professionals can offer people who have an addiction to opioids
  • How the path to recovery is not always straightforward but there is hope for a good life after addiction.

This course will challenge preconceptions you may have about addiction as a lack of will and who can become addicted to opioid drugs. You will learn that addiction is a disease of the brain, not a lack of will, and there are multiple ways people can become addicted to prescription and non-prescription opioids.

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What you'll learn

On completion of this course, your should be able to:

  • How opioid use and misuse has evolved and spread over time and geographic distance
  • The chemical and genetic risk factors and various pathways that can lead people to misuse opioids and become addicted
  • The unique risk factors and prevention approaches for adolescents and young adults
  • Medical and non-medical use of opioids, including the use of heroin and other drugs in addition to prescription opioids
  • The individual, social, and economic impacts of addiction
  • Harm reduction strategies for preventing overdose deaths and reducing the public health impact of addiction
  • Alternative treatments for pain and treating pain in the context of opioid addiction
  • Treatments for overdose
  • Medication and non-medication treatments for addiction
  • The process and options for effective recovery
7 weeks
1-2 hours per week
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