I've compiled a summary of what I believe to be some of the most efficient and practical measures for reducing opioid overdose deaths. However, to implement these measures will require the commonfolk to come to terms with some uncomfortable realities. To the parents whining about protecting children; I'm perplexed as to how many of you still haven't come to terms with the reality that draconian drug laws do not work. Rather than mindlessly wringing your hands and crusading to ban more drugs, start promoting some intellectually honest policies which emphasize individual responsibility and are actually effective.
The US could spend an extra 500 billion dollars on propaganda & enforcement, and still, these reasonable measures would be far more effective than the current misguided approach:
1) Dispensing opioid antagonists such as naloxone (Narcan) with prescriptions. Along with widespread access to over the counter naloxone in its nasal spray form, sublingual tablet or pre-packaged syrettes for IM use. Narcan has seen wider use in 15 states due to its success in reducing mortality. Even the CDC now claims there is a direct correlation between "harm reduction" policies like this and reduced death rates. If a product is known to be minimize harm and save lives (as opposed to causing harm, as our drug laws have) then it is irrational, immoral, and inexcusable to deny individuals liberal access to this product.
2) Greater efforts toward drug education. To include safety & harm minimization techniques, basic pharmacology, drug tolerance, drug combinations, mechanism of overdose, and emergency antagonist treatment.
3) Publicize and emphasize the danger of polydrug use involving benzodiazepines & alcohol with narcotics. A majority of opioid related overdoses and overdose deaths are due to these poly-drug combinations of opioids with benzodiazepines or alcohol - Simply spreading awareness of this crucial danger could substantially reduce deaths.
4) Distribution of narcotic equipotency charts at treatment centers, needle exchanges, pharmacies, or community service or outreach centers.
5) Encourage patients to take on more responsibility in their medication regimens in part by becoming educated & reading RX literature.
6) "Good Samaritan Laws" - Introduce policies which grant criminal immunity to those who call to report an overdose. The criminalization of narcotic use serves to disincentivize drug users to seek emergency treatment for overdosed friends or themselves.