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Int J Drug Policy. 2018 Apr;54:43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.01.001. Epub 2018 Feb 8.

Post opioid overdose outreach by public health and public safety agencies: Exploration of emerging programs in Massachusetts.

Author information

1
Social Science Research and Evaluation, Inc., 21-C Cambridge Street, Burlington, MA 01803, United States. Electronic address: sformica@ssre.org.
2
Social Science Research and Evaluation, Inc., 21-C Cambridge Street, Burlington, MA 01803, United States; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, 17 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States.
3
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, 250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108, United States.
4
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, 250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108, United States; Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02118, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Opioid overdose is a significant public health problem. Collaborative programs between local public health and public safety agencies have emerged to connect overdose survivors and their personal networks with harm reduction and addiction treatment services following a non-fatal overdose event. This study explored the prevalence of these programs in Massachusetts and the different ways they have been structured and function.

METHODS:

We sent an online screening questionnaire to police and fire departments in all 351 communities in Massachusetts to find instances in which they collaborated with a community-based public health agency to implement a post-overdose outreach and support program. We conducted telephone interviews with communities that implemented this type of program and categorized programs based on their structure, outreach approach, and other key characteristics.

RESULTS:

Police and fire personnel from 110 of the 351 communities in Massachusetts (31% response rate) completed the screening survey. Among respondents, 21% (23/110) had implemented a collaborative, community-based, post-overdose program with a well-defined process to connect overdose survivors and their personal networks with support services or addiction treatment services. Using data from the interviews, we identified four types of programs: (1) Multi-Disciplinary Team Visit, (2) Police Visit with Referrals, (3) Clinician Outreach, and (4) Location-Based Outreach.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study represents the first attempt to systematically document an emerging approach intended to connect opioid overdose survivors and their personal networks with harm reduction and addiction treatment services soon after a non-fatal overdose event. These programs have the potential to increase engagement with the social service and addiction treatment systems by those who are at elevated risk for experiencing a fatal opioid overdose.

KEYWORDS:

Heroin; Opioids; Outreach; Overdose

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