Modeling Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Opioid-Related Morbidity and Mortality in the US

Jeromie Ballreich, Omar Mansour, Ellen Hu, Francine Chingcuanco, Harold A. Pollack, David W. Dowdy, G. Caleb Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Importance: The US opioid epidemic is complex and dynamic, yet relatively little is known regarding its likely future impact and the potential mitigating impact of interventions to address it. Objective: To estimate the future burden of the opioid epidemic and the potential of interventions to address the burden. Design, Setting, and Participants: A decision analytic dynamic Markov model was calibrated using 2010-2018 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the US Census, and National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III. Data on individuals 12 years or older from the US general population or with prescription opioid medical use; prescription opioid nonmedical use; heroin use; prescription, heroin, or combined prescription and heroin opioid use disorder (OUD); 1 of 7 treatment categories; or nonfatal or fatal overdose were examined. The model was designed to project fatal opioid overdoses between 2020 and 2029. Exposures: The model projected prescribing reductions (5% annually), naloxone distribution (assumed 5% reduction in case-fatality), and treatment expansion (assumed 35% increase in uptake annually for 4 years and 50% relapse reduction), with each compared vs status quo. Main Outcomes and Measures: Projected 10-year overdose deaths and prevalence of OUD. Results: Under status quo, 484429 (95% confidence band, 390543-576631) individuals were projected to experience fatal opioid overdose between 2020 and 2029. Projected decreases in deaths were 0.3% with prescribing reductions, 15.4% with naloxone distribution, and 25.3% with treatment expansion; when combined, these interventions were associated with 179151 fewer overdose deaths (37.0%) over 10 years. Interventions had a smaller association with the prevalence of OUD; for example, the combined intervention was estimated to reduce OUD prevalence by 27.5%, from 2.47 million in 2019 to 1.79 million in 2029. Model projections were most sensitive to assumptions regarding future rates of fatal and nonfatal overdose. Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that the opioid epidemic is likely to continue to cause tens of thousands of deaths annually over the next decade. Aggressive deployment of evidence-based interventions may reduce deaths by at least a third but will likely have less impact for the number of people with OUD..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023677
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Opioid-Related Morbidity and Mortality in the US'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this