The Opioid Crisis
A digital map visualizing the complexity of America's opioid crisis by identifying leverage points, stakeholders, intervention points, feedback loops, etc. on an individual, communal, and national scale.
SYSTEMS THINKING / GRAPHIC DESIGN
/ DESIGN RESEARCH / VISUALIZATION
Elysha Tsai, Joseph Kim, Teresa Lourie, Zimmy Kang
User research, composition/layout, developing cohesive and engaging visual design/graphics
Figma (worked remotely due to Covid-19)
3 weeks (Spring 2020)
Over recent decades, the opioid crisis in the United States has become the worst addiction epidemic in our nation’s history, and present research shows an upward trend in opioid-related death rates in northeastern states especially.
Our map proposes several leverage points that aim to intervene in terms of education, policy, healthcare, the environment, and the economy. Because of the complex and ever-changing nature of a wicked problem, we propose multiple methods and ways to manage and contain the issue at smaller scales.
While doing our preliminary research, we mess mapped our findings on key topics such as treatment methods, government intervention, mental and physical health effects, history, etc.
We branched our research into multiple levels of analysis—social, technological, environmental,
and political—and then began identifying interrelationships between topics.
To build our narrative, we categorized our map
into cause, effect, and solution. This approach,
however, was too linear and simple for a problem this complex.
In the 1980s, Society began to move towards prescribing controlled substances for terminal patients.
The pre-existing structure of our health-care system allows private practitioners to prescribe opioids for financial gain.
Racial & Socio-Economic Attitudes
Purdue Pharma focused the initial marketing of OxyContin on suburban and rural white communities, targeting doctors who were “serving patients that were not thought to be at risk for addiction.”
First Wave (1991)
Sharp increase in opioid prescriptions due to public misconception of the risk of addiction.
Second Wave (2010)
Decrease in opioid prescribing, thus addicts turned to heroin.
Third Wave (2013)
Synthetic Opioids (Fentanyl)
Rise in drug-related deaths due to fentanyl related drugs manufactered illegally.
Horizon 1: the current and near future
Horizon 2: innovation toward a more far out future
Horizon 3: the ideal distant future
High opioid addiction rates
Poor criminal justice system
Spread of disease
Needle exchange programs
Shift in stigma
Increase in federal funding
Low opioid addiction rates
Streamlined education system
AREAS OF INTERVENTION
We identified six points of intervention across various topics—education and legislation reform, environmental issues, decriminalization, and other treatment opportunities.
Iterations and Visual Explorations