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Learn about the opioid crisis with online courses and programs

The opioid crisis is a public health emergency marked by the abuse of opioid drugs, leading to addiction and overdose deaths. Learn about the opioid crisis with online courses delivered through edX.

What is the opioid crisis?

The opioid crisis, which began in the late 1990s and escalated throughout the 2000s, is a complex public health emergency in the United States and other parts of the world. It is characterized by the widespread misuse of and addiction to opioid drugs, the class of drugs that comprises prescription medication and illicit substances, including heroin, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl.

The crisis can be traced back to the overprescription of opioids by healthcare providers, driven by a belief that these medications were safe and non-addictive. Millions of people became dependent on opioids, and many turned to more potent street drugs when prescription access became restricted. Affected communities have seen a sharp increase in overdose deaths and strained healthcare systems. Government agencies, healthcare providers, and advocacy groups have worked to implement harm-reduction strategies, increase access to addiction treatment, and improve prescription monitoring to address the crisis. However, the opioid crisis remains a significant challenge, requiring ongoing efforts to save lives and combat its devastating effects.

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Opioid crisis course curriculum

Understanding the opioid crisis can require study in many different fields including public health, behavioral psychology, social work, and public policy. Some of the topics that you might study in a course about the opioid crisis can include:

  • Epidemiology and public health impact: Delve into the epidemiological aspects of the crisis, including the prevalence of opioid misuse, overdose rates, and demographic trends.

  • Causes and risk factors: Examine the root causes and risk factors behind opioid misuse.

  • Treatment and harm reduction: Cover evidence-based treatments, such as medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapies.

  • Policy and prevention: Look at the role of policy and prevention measures like prescription drug monitoring programs and public awareness campaigns.

Opioid crisis courses can also teach you valuable skills including critical thinking, communication, and research skills that you can apply to your professional life. Are you ready to start learning? Explore the range of educational opportunities offered through edX that cover fields such as health, science, and more. Sign up for an accelerated boot camp, or enroll in a full degree program and start working toward a bachelor’s degree, or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.

Why learn about the opioid crisis?

You can contribute to addressing the opioid crisis through direct patient care, research, public policy, or prevention efforts. For those interested, some roles to consider include:

  • Substance abuse counselor: Works directly with people struggling with opioid addiction, providing therapy, support, and guidance.

  • Clinical psychologist: Provides therapy and assessment services to people with opioid use disorders.

  • Public health analyst: Studies the impact of the opioid crisis on communities and develops strategies to prevent opioid misuse.

  • Pharmacist: Ensures safe opioid prescribing practices and monitors prescription drug dispensing to prevent misuse.

  • Medical researcher or epidemiologist: Investigates the causes and consequences of the opioid crisis and develops new treatments.

Each of these roles will need different qualifications to practice, so it is important that you research potential careers and align your learning path with your professional aspirations. When you are ready to start building the skills and knowledge you need, find the right online courses and programs with edX.