Leo Beletsky Biography

Leo Beletsky

Leo Beletsky

Associate Professor of Law and Health Sciences
School of Law and Bouvé College of Health Sciences

[email protected] 

Areas of Expertise

Drug overdose
Infectious disease transmission
Criminal justice reform


Leo Beletsky is an Associate Professor of Law and Health Sciences at Northeastern University, where he is the faculty director of the Health in Justice Action Lab. He is also on faculty at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Beletsky’s expertise is in the public health impact of laws and their enforcement, with special focus on drug overdose, infectious disease transmission, and criminal justice reform through a public health lens.

Project Description

Beletsky’s research considers the role law and policing as a structural determinant of health, with special focus on the overdose crisis, addiction, and human rights in both domestic and international settings.

Publications – Past Five Years

Al-Moujahed A., Alahdab F., Abolaban H., & Beletsky L. (2017). Polio in Syria: Problem still not solved. Avicenna Journal of Medicine, 7(2), 64–66. https://doi.org/10.4103/ajm.AJM_173_16

Arredondo, J., Gaines, T., Manian, S., Vilalta, C., Bañuelos, A., Strathdee, S. A., & Beletsky, L. (2018). The law on the streets: Evaluating the impact of Mexico’s drug decriminalization reform on drug possession arrests in Tijuana, Mexico. International Journal of Drug Policy, 54, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.12.006

Arredondo, J., Strathdee, S. A., Cepeda, J. A., Abramovitz, D., Artamonova, I., Clairgue, E,… Beletsky, L. (2017). Measuring improvement in knowledge of drug policy reforms following a police education program in Tijuana, Mexico. Harm Reduction Journal, 14, 72-79. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12954-017-0198-2

Beletsky, L. (2018). 21st Century cures for the overdose crisis. American Journal of Law & Medicine, 44, 359-385. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098858818789417

Beletsky, L. (2015). The benefits and potential drawbacks in the approval of EVZIO for reversal of opioid overdose. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 48(3), 357-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2014.09.011

Beletsky, L. (2018). Deploying prescription drug monitoring to address the overdose crisis: Ideology meets reality. Indiana Health Law Review, 15(2), 139-187. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3175299

Beletsky, L. (2018). Using choice architecture to integrate substance use services with primary care. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 12(1), 1-3. https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0000000000000367

Beletsky L., Arredondo J., Werb D., Vera, A., Abramovitz, D., Amon, J. J., & Gaines, T. L. (2016). Utilization of Google enterprise tools to georeference survey data among hard-to-reach groups: strategic application in international settings. International Journal of Health Geographic, 15(24), e1-4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12942-016-0053-9

Beletsky, L., Baker, P., Arredondo, J., Emuka, A., Goodman-Meza, D., Medina-Mora, M.E.,… Magis-Rodriguez, C. (2018). The global health and equity imperative for safe consumption facilities. The Lancet, 392(10147), 553-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31469-7

Beletsky, L., Cochrane, J., Sawyer, A. L., Serio-Chapman, C., Smelyanskaya, M., Han, J.,… Sherman, S. G. (2015). Police encounters among needle exchange clients in Baltimore: Drug law enforcement as a structural determinant of health. American Journal of Public Health, 105(9), 1872-9. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302681

Beletsky, L., & Davis, C. S. (2017). Today’s Fentanyl Crisis: Prohibition’s iron law, revisited. International Journal of Drug Policy, 46, 156-159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.05.050

Beletsky, L., Heller, D., Jenness, S., Neaigus, A., Gelpi-Acostae, C., & Hagan, H. (2014). Syringe access, syringe sharing, and police encounters among people who inject drugs in New York City: A community-level perspective. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25(1), 105-111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2013.06.005

Beletsky, L., LaSalle, L., Newman, M., Paré, J., Tam, J., & Tochka, A. (2015). Fatal re-entry: Legal and programmatic opportunities to curb opioid overdose among individuals newly released from incarceration. Northeastern University Law Journal, 7(1), 155-215.

Beletsky, L., Wagner, K. D., Arredondo, J., Palinkas, L., Rodriguez, C. M., Kalic, N.,… Strathdee, S. A. (2015). Implementing Mexico’s “Narcomenudeo” drug law reform: A mixed-methods assessment of early experiences among people who inject drugs. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 10(4), 384-401. https://doi.org/10.1177/1558689815575862

Borquez, A., Beletsky, L., Nosyk, B., Strathdee, S. A., Madrazo, A., Abramovitz, D.,… Martin, N. K. (2018). Evaluating the impact of public health-oriented drug law reform on HIV incidence among people who inject drugs in Tijuana, Mexico: an epidemic modelling analysis. The Lancet Public Health, 3(9), e429–e437. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30097-5

Cepeda J., Arredondo J., Abramovitz D., Artamonova I., Clairgue E., Bustamante E.,… Beletsky L. (2017). Assessing police officers’ attitudes and legal knowledge on behaviors that impact HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy, 50, 56-63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.09.009

Cepeda, J. A., Beletsky, L., Sawyer, A., Serio-Chapman, C., Smelyanskaya, M., Han, J.,… Sherman, S. G. (2017). Occupational safety in the age of the opioid crisis: Needle stick injury among Baltimore police. Journal of Urban Health, 94(1), 100-103. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-016-0115-0.

Cepeda J. A., Eritsyan K., Vickerman P., Lyubimova A., Shegay M., Odinokova V., Beletsky L.,… Martin N. K. (2018). Modelling the potential impact of implementing and scaling-up harm reduction and antiretroviral therapy on HIV and overdose deaths among people who inject drugs in two Russian cities. The Lancet HIV, 5(10), 578-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S2352-3018(18)30168-1

Curfman, G. D., Beletsky, L., & Sarpatwari, A. (2018). Benefits, limitations, and value of abuse-deterrent opioids. JAMA Internal Medicine, 178(1), 131-132. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7259

Dasgupta, N., Beletsky, L., & Ciccarone, D. (2018). Opioid Crisis: No easy fix to its social and economic determinants. American Journal of Public Health, 108(2), 182-186. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304187

Davis, C. S., Burris, S., Beletsky, L., & Binswanger, I. (2016). Co-prescribing Naloxone does not increase liability risk. Substance Abuse Journal, 37(4), 498-500. https://doi.org/10.1080/08897077.2016.1238431

Davis, C., Carr, D., Southwell, J., & Beletsky, L. (2015). Engaging law enforcement in overdose reversal initiatives: Authorization and liability for Naloxone administration. American Journal of Public Health, 105(8), 1530-7. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302638.

Davis, C. S., Green, T. C., & Beletsky, L. (2017). Action, not rhetoric, needed to reverse the opioid epidemic, Journal of Law Medicine and Ethics, 45(1), 20-23. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073110517703310.

Fiscella, K., Beletsky, L., & Wakeman., S. E. (2017). The inmate exception and reform of correctional health care. American Journal of Public Health, 107(3), 384-385. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303626

Fiscella, K., Wakeman, S. E., & Beletsky, L. (2018). Implementing opioid agonist treatment in correctional facilities. JAMA Internal Medicine, 178(9), 1153-54. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3504

Fiscella, K., Wakeman, S.E., & Beletsky, L. (2019). X the X-Waiver: Buprenorphine deregulation and mainstreaming treatment for opioid use disorder. Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, 76(3), 229-230. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3685

Gaines, T., Beletsky, L., Arredondo, J., Werb, D., Rangel, G., Vera, A., & Brouwer, K. (2015). Examining the spatial distribution of law enforcement encounters among people who inject drugs after implementation of Mexico’s drug policy reform. Journal of Urban Health, 92(2), 338-51. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-014-9907-2.

Gaines, T. L., Werb, D., Arredondo, J., Alaniz, V. M., Vilalta, C., & Beletsky L. (2016). The spatial-temporal pattern of policing following a drug policy reform: Triangulating self-reported arrests with official crime statistics. Substance Use and Misuse, 52(2), 214-222. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2016.1223689

Hammett T., Phan S., Gaggin J., Case P., Zaller N., Lutnick A., Kral A. H., Fedorova E. V., Heimer R., Small W., Pollini R., Beletsky L.,… Des Jarlais D. C. (2014). Pharmacies as providers of expanded health services for people who inject drugs: A review of laws, policies, and barriers in six countries. BMC Health Services Research, 14, 261. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-14-261

Mackey T. K., Werb D., Beletsky L., Rangel G., Arredondo J., & Strathdee S. A. (2014). Mexico’s “Ley de Narcomenudeo:” drug policy reform and the international drug control regime. Harm Reduction Journal, 11(21), e1-e7. https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7517-11-31

Mittal M. L., Artamonova I., Baker P., Strathdee S. A., Cepeda J., Bañuelos A.,… Beletsky L. (2018). Improving police conceptual knowledge of Mexico’s law on cannabis possession: Findings from an assessment of a police education program. The American Journal on Addictions, 27, 608-611. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajad.12827

Mittal M. L., Beletsky L., Patiño E., Abramovitz, D., Rocha, T., Arredondo, J.,…Strathdee, S. A. (2016). Prevalence and correlates of needle-stick injuries among active duty police officers in Tijuana, Mexico. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 19(4), 20874. https://doi.org/10.7448/IAS.19.4.20874

Piñedo M, Beletsky L., Alamillo N, & Ojeda, V. D. (2017). Health-damaging policing practices among persons who inject drugs in Mexico: are deported migrants at greater risk? International Journal of Drug Policy, 46, 41-46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.05.028.

Rafful C., Orozco R., Rangel M. G., Davidson P., Werb D., Beletsky L., & Strathdee S. A. (2018). Increased non-fatal overdose risk associated with involuntary drug treatment in a longitudinal study with people who inject drugs. Addiction, 113(6), 1056-1063. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.14159

Rolon, M., Patiño Mandujano, E., Beletsky, L., Arredondo, J., Rocha, T., Olivarri,a O.,…Strathdee, S. A. (2015). Más miedo a una enfermedad que a un balazo [More afraid of a disease than a bullet]: Implementation of system-wide needlestick injury surveillance system in the Tijuana Police Department, Mexico. Annals of Global Health, 81(1), 9-12. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2015.02.534

Saloner, B., McGinty, E. E., Beletsky, L., Bluthenthal, B., Beyrer, C., Botticelli, M., & Sherman, S. G. (2018). A public health strategy for the opioid crisis. Public Health Reports, 133(1), 24S-34S. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033354918793627

Strathdee, S. A., Arredondo, J., Rocha, T., Abramovitz, D., Rolon, M. L., Patiño, M. E.,… Beletsky L. (2015). A police education program to integrate occupational safety and HIV prevention: Protocol for a modified stepped-wedge study design with parallel prospective cohorts to assess behavioral outcomes. British Medical Journal, 5(8), e008958. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008958

Strathdee, S. A., Beletsky, L., & Kerr, T. (2015). HIV, drugs and the legal environment. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(1), S27-S32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.09.001

Werb, D., Medina Mora, G., Beletsky, L., Arredondo, J., & Strathdee, S. A. (2014). Mexico’s drug policy reform: Cutting edge success or crisis in the making? International Journal of Drug Policy, 25(1), 823-825. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.05.014

Werb, D., Strathdee, S. A., Meza, E., Rangel, G., Palinkas, L., Medina-Mora, M. E., & Beletsky, L. (2017). Institutional stakeholder perceptions of barriers to addiction treatment under Mexico’s drug policy reform. Global Public Health, 12(5), 519-530. https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2015.1093524

Werb, D., Strathdee, S. A., Vera, A., Arredondo, J., Beletsky, L., Gonazalez-Zuniga, P., & Gaines, T. (2016). Spatial patterns of arrest, police assault, and addiction treatment center locations in Tijuana, Mexico. Addiction, 111(7), 1246-5. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.13350.

Werb, D., Wagner, K. D., Beletsky, L., Gonzalez-Zuniga, P., Rangel, G., & Strathdee, S. A. (2015). Police bribery and access to Methadone Maintenance Therapy within the context of drug policy reform in Tijuana, Mexico. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 148(1), 221-5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.01.011.

Wood, E. F., Werb, D., Beletsky, L., Rangel, G., Cuevas Mota, J., Garfein, R. S., & Wagner, K. D. (2017). Differential experiences of Mexican policing by people who inject drugs residing in Tijuana and San Diego. International Journal of Drug Policy, 41(1), 132-139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.12.010