Addressing the Opioid Crisis – #MacroSW 9/26 at 9pm EST

Editor’s Note: This is our first Patreon Influencer benefit!

We are a group of Western Michigan University MSW students currently studying Social Welfare Policy. 

Chat transcript

Each day an average of 130 people in the United States die from opioid-related overdoses. 46 of these overdoses involve prescription opioids, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. In the 1990s, drug companies such as Purdue Pharma, shamelessly marketed prescription opioids as safe, non-addictive methods of pain management. Traveling across the country, Purdue Pharma respresentatives informed physicians that opioid pain relievers did not lead to addiction for over 90 percent of studied patients. In truth, addiction occurred in nearly 57 percent of opioid prescription users for chronic pain management. Today, Purdue Pharma has declared bankruptcy and over 400,000 people have died from opioid-related overdoses from 1999 to 2017. From 2010 to 2017, heroin over-dose deaths increased by over five times and a study conducted from 2000 to 2013 determined that 3 out of 4 heroin users first abused prescription opioids. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced their Five-Point Strategy for addressing the opioid crisis, allocating thousands of dollars in federal resources for treatment, prevention, and on-going research. 

In short, the effects of the opioid crisis have extended far beyond the “individual-level” and have permeated our medical and childwelfare systems. During the Twitter chat we will discuss major policies,  recent lawsuits, and implications for future macro social work practice. 

If you or a loved one are suffering from an opioid use disorder and wish to seek treatment please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Operators will assist you in locating treatment providers in your area. For more information visit their website:

Additional reading to better understand the opioid crisis:

Here are questions we will discuss:

1.     How effective do you think the U.S. DHHS Five-Point Strategy will be in addressing the opioid crisis? Are there any other priorities/considerations you think should be taken into account?

2.   Purdue Pharma recently recived juducial approval to continue paying employees $26 million in wages, benefits, and even bonuses. Due to lawsuits from Native American governments and multiple counties, Purdue Pharma declared bankruptcy. Do you think that the judge made the right decision?

3.   How can we alleviate the compounding effects of opioids use on different systems, such as the child welfare system and medical system. (Carol)

4.   How do we resolve the criminalization of drug use (how crack cocaine was addressed vs opiates)… (Tonitta)

5.   What actions do you believe macro social workers should take to prevent the next epidemic? How do we expand the discussion to the greater communities around us?

Chat Resources:



3. (national helpline that offers assistance in finding drug treatment services in your area)




Check out this week’s podcast!

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