By: Sean Fearns, Chief of Community Outreach, Drug Enforcement Administration
(Milken Institute) While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is first and foremost a law enforcement agency, the nationwide opioid crisis has created a new reality in which we find ourselves at a nexus between public safety and public health. DEA is a prime example of the alignment between these two traditionally disparate fields, as it not only continues to fight the flow of illegal substances into the U.S., but also actively works to prevent drug abuse from negatively affecting our nation’s individuals, families, schools, workplaces, and communities.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has asserted that tackling the opioid epidemic is going to require partnerships among federal, state, and local organizations, ranging from the business community to law enforcement. Recognizing that new ideas and approaches are necessary for the fight against the opioid crisis, DEA continues to collaborate with national and statewide organizations, as well as its federal partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and U.S. Department of Education.
Since 2015, the DEA’s three-pronged 360 Strategy was implemented in 10 pilot cities, with an expansion into four additional cities this year. The 360 Strategy involves three components: law enforcement, diversion control, and community outreach, all of which play important roles. DEA intentionally examines available national and local data that document where the highest prevalence of opioid misuse and overdoses occur. By paying critical attention to those data points, it becomes clear which cities are being hit hardest by the opioid crisis and therefore enables DEA to target its efforts.
DEA’s community outreach and prevention support efforts are built around three long-standing prevention principles: local people solve local problems best, people support what they help create, and science matters. Read more on the Milken Institute's website.