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Deliberation on the Opioid Crisis

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Conflict Resolution Institute

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On January 23rd, the Conflict Resolution Institute again hosted a deliberative forum which explored multiple approaches to confronting the American Opioid Crisis. Addiction to opioids has become a major health crisis in the United States in the last decade, with two-thirds of drug overdose deaths attributable to opioid use. This sweeping epidemic impacts the lives of countless Americans, often in deeply personal ways.

As such, the approach used by the forum was deliberation, a process of thoughtfully weighing multiple courses of action before reaching a decision. While a traditional debate consists of participants taking opposing sides on an issue, in deliberation, participants are expected to engage with multiple viewpoints, collaborate, and find common ground. Participants are not expected to agree with one another, nor are they expected to change one another's minds. They engage in choice work in which the consequences and trade-offs of each option are carefully considered amongst the group. Within the deliberative process, the goal is to reach common ground, an outcome or shared sense of direction.

The forum's facilitator was Sam Haas, an alumni of the Conflict Resolution program and an associate at Peak Facilitation. She organized participants in an informal circle and guided the discussion of three options: focusing on treatment for all, focusing on law enforcement, or focusing on individual choice. Participants within the circle shared how they have been personally impacted by the opioid crisis, then explored merits and consequences of the three approaches.

~Nicklaus Nusbeitel, MA '20