Special Summit on the Opioid Crisis


Topic Summary

Topic: Preventing Opioid Abuse

The opioid epidemic is currently an international crisis that is affecting every region of the world differently yet harshly. The drug opium has throughout human history been extremely popular for recreational use and has been the source of much historical tension, such as the two opium wars fought between Britain and China in the 19th century. Today, prescription opioids and opiates, the synthetic and naturally produced drugs from opium respectively, are some of the most prescribed classes of drugs in the world, despite their highly addictive and harmful nature. Causing problems across socio-economic and national borders, there are an amplitude of variables that makes the crisis an extremely complex health crisis. Furthermore, the fact that opioids are actually an effective medical treatment in many cases makes forming public policy around them even more difficult.

Public health policy is all about creating safe and effective health practices which is difficult with opioids that are simultaneously helping and destroying lives. It becomes important to look at how certain nations have become more successful than others at combating the crisis and drafting policy that won’t exacerbate issues already at hand, or cause new issues. This is a very difficult topic, which is why it has been a crisis for so long, and combining effective methods to combat the epidemic while also considering socioeconomic, political, racial, and more influences into such international policy will prove challenging and hopefully spur exciting debate and discussion surrounding many aspects of global health.

Director’s Letter

Dear Delegates,

Hello! My name is Matt Dickey and I am super excited to be your Director of the Special Summit on the Opioid Epidemic at HMUN 2020! I attended HMUN as a delegate for three years in high school and served as an Assistant Director for the Historical General Assembly: 1979, the 6th Summit of the Non Aligned Movement last year, so this will be my fifth time at HMUN and I am super honored to have my own committee in the General Assembly.

I am from Cohasset, Massachusetts, which is south of Boston and just under and hour from Harvard Square. At Harvard, I live in Eliot House and am planning on concentrating in Molecular and Cellular Biology while considering a Secondary in Statistics. I am planning on following a pre-med track but have a special interest in both public health policy and international relations, and I think this committee will do a great job of becoming an intersection of these two areas. Outside of my academics, I am on our Varsity Sailing Team, am involved with a couple of programs through the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP), and with the International Relations Council (IRC).

I’ve been sailing practically my whole life, whether that be teaching sailing or competing myself, and I love nothing more than being out on the water. I’m also a huge Boston sports fan, especially basketball, and I’m always staying up to date with the Boston Celtics; when I’m not in class or at practice, there’s a good chance that I’m watching the NBA or playing basketball with my roommates. Over the past couple of summers, I’ve worked as a sailing coach for high school age kids and have absolutely loved working with that age group while also being in a position to spread and promote something that I love and am passionate about; I see a lot of similarities with coaching and being a director, so I am hopeful my experience in this regard will translate to helping run a positive and successful committee.

With the IOP last fall, I worked on a project examining some of the root causes of the Opioid Epidemic and potential methods for mediating the crisis and improving the lives of those hit by the epidemic. As you’ll all discover in this background guide and through your research, there are a plethora of variables that influence the effects of the Opioid Epidemic across the world and even across a single region. When concerning public health issues especially, I find it’s important to recognize that public health policy has a far greater direct effect on people and citizens than other policy debates. It’s also important to remember that with a topic like this, there very likely will be somebody in our committee whose family is directly or indirectly affected by the Opioid Epidemic, and while drafting policy it will be important to be sensitive to the fact that while we are in a simulation, we are discussing a topic that is hurting real people and real families. At the same time, this makes our committee especially topical and will, I think, contribute to great dialogue and discussion about such a major international epidemic.

Welcome to HMUN 2020 and the Special Summit on the Opioid Epidemic!


Matt Dickey

Director, Special Summit on the Opioid Epidemic