LSC Opioid Task Force
The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, devastating urban, suburban, and rural communities across the United States. Each day, 115 Americans die from opioid overdose. Over two million Americans are currently living with an opioid-related substance use disorder. Opioid-related disorders physically and psychologically cripple individuals and destroy family connections. A broad range of civil legal issues are frequently associated with such disorders, including issues related to child support/child custody/guardianship, health benefits, domestic violence, housing, employment, and child abuse and neglect.
As best practices for treatment and recovery emerge, policymakers, the criminal justice system, and public health officials have begun to recognize that a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach is needed both to help people recover from opioid-related disorders and to prevent additional individuals from becoming addicted in the future. There has been increased focus on how legal services and other social services can serve as critical recovery resources alongside medical treatment. For example, dozens of LSC grantees participate in medical-legal partnerships, which are flexible, collaborative arrangements in which legal professionals are embedded in a health care organization to address the unmet civil legal needs of patients that directly impact health outcomes.
Despite legal aid’s impact in helping individuals and families dealing with opioid-related disorders, there remains a significant gap in awareness regarding the prevalence of civil legal issues associated with the epidemic and the role civil legal aid providers can play in addressing those issues. Many organizations responding to opioid-related disorders are unaware not only of the issues facing individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic, but also of their legal rights.
Opioid Task Force’s was comprised of a diverse group of LSC grantees, health care and public health experts, judges, business leaders, and other stakeholders. Its primary goals were:
Educate public health officials and treatment providers about the legal obstacles patients face in obtaining and remaining in treatment;
Educate judges, law enforcement officials, child welfare workers, and employers about the civil legal issues connected to medication-assisted treatment for opioid-related disorders;
Engage with public health officials, treatment providers, and others to promote a comprehensive model of recovery that includes legal aid attorneys as resources for individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic; and
Provide a forum for study and discussion of potential best practices for engaging legal aid attorneys in the recovery process and identify and make recommendations to promote such practices.
To read more about the work of LSC’s other task forces, click here.
Opioid Task Force Report
The report’s recommendations are organized according to audience. Part II addresses civil legal aid providers and LSC; Part III addresses the judiciary and law enforcement; and Part IV addresses treatment providers and public health officials.
LSC Opioid Task Force Announcement
LSC Chair John G. Levi announced the creation of LSC Opioid Task Force at an LSC forum in 2018.
Congressional briefing: How Medical-Legal Partnerships Assist Victims of Opioid Addiction
LSC’s congressional briefing on April 11, 2018, looked at MLPs’ role in confronting the opioid crisis.
Statement from former Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-5) on Opioid Task Force
Former Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks explained the importance of the Opioid Task Force’s mission.
Opioid Task Force Members
Opioid Task Force Members
Chief Executive Officer
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
Managing Attorney/Director of Medical-Legal Partnerships
Indiana Legal Services
Legal Action Center
Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition
Head Football Coach
University of Michigan
Ohio State Legal Services Association
Access to Justice Consultant
Former Acting Director, U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice
Judge Patricia Keller
Family Court Judge, Sixth Family Court Circuit
State of West Virginia
Deputy General Counsel, Political Law & Vice President, Public Policy
Koch Companies Public Sector LLC
Former Assistant Attorney General and Chief Counsel for Victims Services and Outreach Division; Co-Founder
Office of the Indiana Attorney General; Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic
National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership
United States Army
Anishinabe Legal Services
Dr. Robert Onders
Medical Director of Community and Health Systems Improvements
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Dr. Elizabeth Quinn
Family Physician & Associate Medical Director
Lynn Community Health Center
General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, Ascendium Education Group
Former Judge, Dane County Circuit Court
Chief Justice Paul Reiber
Vermont State Supreme Court
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
Chief Justice Loretta Rush
Indiana Supreme Court
Skadden Fellow; Co-Chair
Public Defender Association; Washington Statewide Reentry Council
Director, Civil Legal Aid Initiatives
National Legal Aid and Defender Association
Administrative Office of the Courts; National Judicial Opioid Task Force
Dr. Mishka Terplan
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry, Associate Director of Addiction Medicine, and Medical Director of MOTIVATE
Virginia Commonwealth University
Legal Aid of West Virginia
Former General Counsel
*Member of LSC Leaders Council