AER18 Closing General Session: Research Ethics, Race, and Opioids


Moderator: Elizabeth Buchanan, PhD, Endowed Chair in Ethics, University of Wisconsin-Stout
Brenda Curtis, PhD, MSPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry - Addictions, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Alexis Roth, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health and Prevention, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University
Ekow Yankah, BA, JD, BCL, Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

The opioid epidemic claims the lives of 116 individuals in the United States every day. This fact has contributed to recent public policy responses, and has fueled considerations of overdose reversing medications and harm reduction (e.g., safe-injection sites). This epidemic, as with those before, is not only about addiction: epidemics are about culture, politics, prejudice, and stereotypes. The current opioid crisis provides a lens through which the impact of race, class, gender, and social injustices can be considered. Some argue the current crisis is partly the result of a stark racial divide. When White Americans become addicted, it’s seen as proof of a breakdown of society, but when minorities become addicted, it’s viewed as evidence of an individual’s moral failing. This panel will consider how society as a whole, including the research enterprise, frame the language and discourse around epidemics, how racial and economic injustices are perpetuated through public policy and research responses, and will examine the politics and framing of epidemics, stigma, and morality.