This seventh episode in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Dr. Alex Kral, an infectious disease epidemiologist at RTI International, who discusses innovative policy solutions to improve outcomes for people with substance-use disorder.
Dr. Kral has expertise in community-based research with urban poor populations and drug policy. His policy and evaluation research has included syringe services programs, overdose education, and naloxone distribution programs, as well as supervised consumption site programs. He is currently the principal investigator and co-investigator on several National Institute on Drug Abuse and foundation-funded studies of the relationship between substance use, criminal legal involvement, infectious diseases and overdose, and federal and state drug policies. Background information for the interview notes that Dr. Kral’s community-based research can inform drug policy and provide communities with the knowledge needed to develop innovative strategies that improve outcomes for substance abusers. In the interview, Dr. Kral discusses the historical context for drug policy, Measure 110 in Oregon, and the Arnold Ventures Project. Other issues discussed in the interview are the socioeconomic factors that contribute to the demand for addictive, illegal drugs, as well as programs that increase timely access to naloxone when opioid overdoses occur. He criticizes the law enforcement approach as being ineffective in addressing the socioeconomic factors that contribute to drug abuse and the treatment needs of those addicted.