Dewsbury, Bryan M

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences




Opioids; Substance Abuse Disorder; Drug Policy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


It is estimated that over two million Americans have an opioid-related substance abuse disorder. Nationally, 91 people die every day from an opioid overdose, and 60% of drug overdoses involve an opioid. Rhode Island has enacted some of the strictest opioid-prescribing guidelines in the country, but since 2011 the number of overdose deaths within the state that involve illicit opioids has increased by 250%. In 2015, Governor Gina Raimondo established a special task force whose goal is to reduce the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Rhode Island by one-third by 2018.

In this project, I analyze and compare best practice policies from other states and cities to address the opioid epidemic. I explore novel policies as well as proven, established programs. I then look at the funding and implementation options available in Rhode Island and focus on the most practical ways for the state to prevent opioid abuse and overdose, and to treat and rehabilitate those who are struggling with addiction.

My goals were to (1) gain more experience with policy research and implementation, (2) to learn about funding for health policies, and (3) tailor policy recommendations so that they are feasible for the intended community.