Opioid Task Force

USET Opioid Task Force


The intersection of the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented challenges for families and communities. Deaths from drug overdoses increased 30% in 2020 (over 2019) driven in large part by illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Secondary impacts from the pandemic, including limited access to treatment, disrupted routines, loss of work and increased stress have also had severe consequences. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must include efforts to address the continued rise of the opioid crisis and related, underlying mental and behavioral health challenges.

Tribal communities have been long been implementing their own unique solutions to these problems, drawing on their inherent strengths and Tribal sovereignty to create innovative programs to address their needs.

USET’s Opioid Task Force aims to amplify these resources, strategies and policies that are having an impact across our member Tribal Nations.


The USET Opioid Task Force aims to be a cross-sector collaborator among health, education, justice, social service, federal and non-federal partners, USET member Tribal Nations, and other stakeholders to develop and promote appropriate universal standards to address the opioid crisis.

Potential Activities

  • Respond to proposed policies related to opioid treatment and prevention
  • Develop a strategic plan to address the opioid epidemic for sectors across the region
  • Promote collaboration from across the region among programs serving families affected by opioid use disorder
  • Build partnerships with state and federal agencies to increase representation of Tribal citizens in their response to the opioid crisis
  • Engage in learning events with others who have experience utilizing ODMap, implementing harm reduction programs
  • Sharing best practices on how to help individuals who repeatedly use services and exhaust their resources


Contact Program Coordinators Emma Waugh or Amanda Watts.

Funding for this project is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Tribal Epidemiology Centers Public Health Infrastructure Project (TECPHI)—Opioid Supplement, Tribal Public Health Capacity Building and Quality Improvement Umbrella Cooperative Agreement and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.