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020 | The Fentanyl and Opioid Crises: Trends, Issues, and New Horizons in Treatment and Recovery

Preconference Workshops


John Eklund, M.S.W.



Approved For CE

Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, and Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU

Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, Physicians Assistants, Midwives, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners




Psychologists and other mental health and medical professionals must be equipped to confront the most devastating addiction crisis in history. Opioids, including fentanyl, heroin, and emerging synthetic opioids, are fueling a deadly drug crisis in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded was for the 12-month period ending in March 2022. Provisional data estimated that there were more than 110,000 deaths in that period. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine, when mixed with other illicit drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, drastically increases its potency and with often deadly results. The agents that instigated the opioid pandemic, and the socioeconomic, cultural, and neurobiological factors that continue to drive it, will be discussed, along with strategies for compassionately and competently navigating the ever-changing landscape of prevention, harm-reduction, and treatment of opioid use disorder.

Learning Objectives

Describe the principal factors that have fueled the opioid epidemic.
Describe the neurobiology of opioid dependence, the complexity of pain management, and its contribution to opioid use disorder.
Analyze strategies for the treatment of opioid use disorders including level of care assessment, CBT, and 12-step group support that can aid psychologists, other licensed mental health and medical professionals, and ministry leaders in caring for those affected by addiction.
Analyze various strategies for supporting the families of addicted loved ones.