State and local governments are allocating opioid settlement funds, totaling more than $50 billion over 18 years, to cover various expenses, including policing. This has raised questions about the intended use of the funds and whether they genuinely help save lives in the opioid crisis. The funds are generally earmarked for “opioid remediation,” but the interpretation of this varies. Some argue that law enforcement spending is necessary to combat drug trafficking, while others emphasize treatment and social services. The challenge lies in finding a balance in allocating the funds that maximizes their impact in addressing the opioid epidemic.
Different communities are making decisions on how to use these funds, which can lead to trade-offs between enforcement, treatment, and social services. Achieving this balance is essential, as the settlements, while significant, may fall short of addressing the full scope of the opioid crisis.