Quick Take: What Can Be Done to End the Opioid Epidemic?

DGHI's Brandon Knettel says focusing on mental health could help keep more opioid users on a path to recovery.

Published June 09, 2022 under Commentary

Written by Alicia Banks

What can be done to end the opioid epidemic?

Opioids contribute to nearly 2,000 overdose deaths each year in North Carolina, making them the leading cause of injury death in the state. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the problem, creating more isolation for users and limiting their access to treatment. So what will it take to regain traction on the opioid epidemic? 

Brandon Knettel, assistant research professor in the Duke School of Nursing with a secondary appointment in the Duke Global Health Institute, hopes his background in researching HIV and mental health can help inform the next steps. Knettel is leading a a pilot project to provide mental health support for people who use opioids using telemedicine. Called TeMPO (Telemedicine and Mental health support for People who use Opioids), the project was launched by the Duke School of Nursing to address barriers to care for people in rural counties in North Carolina, as well as to test mental health supports that can encourage recovery from opioid use.

In this short interview, Knettel discusses four areas of treatment and care that need more focus and resources to bring an end to the crippling crisis seen across the state and the United States.