CEA's Opioid Task Force
The County Executives of America was one of the first government organizations to develop a task force to address the epidemic of opioid abuse in the United States. It is a problem of tremendous proportions. For example, opioid overdoses now claim 91 lives a day, with overdose death rates more than doubling since the year 2000, for a total of 165,000 deaths over the last decade. Annual drug overdose deaths in the United States now exceed deaths attributable to automobile accidents, firearms, and even the highest annual reported death rate from the AIDS epidemic. In total, the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates the total social cost of prescription opioid abuse at $26 billion in healthcare costs and $78.5 billion overall.
Our task force serves to address the issues that county governments face, in the ever-changing environment, as opioid abuse continues on and the financial toll increases exponentially for county governments. On July 21, 2021, the Honorable Dan McCoy, Chairman of the CEA Opioid Task Force announced that after many years of legal proceedings and negotiations since 2016, the Opioid Initiative, largely the result of County Executives of America’s efforts resulted in a $26- billion-dollar preliminary settlement which resolves thousands of lawsuits, many by counties, concerning the opioid epidemic which is a national crisis that has caused the deaths of over 500,000 Americans.
Many state, county, and local governments are anticipating an influx of resources for the prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in the form of opioid litigation settlement funds over the next 18 years. The CEA’s Opioid Task Force’s next mission is to help these localities assess, plan, and best spend their settlement funds. CEA created the Opioid Abatement Management Certificate Program to allow county staff to obtain meaningful credentials in the war on opioids.
Robert B. Nealon
Opioid Abuse Task Force