Reducing Opioid Deaths in MA Communities by 40% in 3 Years

Boston Medical Center (BMC) was awarded $89 million in funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to lead a research study with the goal of reducing opioid deaths by 40% in some of the most heavily impacted Massachusetts communities. BMC’s study is part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, a bold, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid crisis. BMC is one of only four recipients of these HEALing Communities Study grants nationwide. The other three are: the University of Kentucky, Lexington; Columbia University, New York City; and Ohio State University, Columbus.

Led by Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH, Chief of General Internal Medicine at BMC and a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, and in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, partner organizations and communities across the state, researchers will study innovative addiction treatment interventions in order to create a national model aimed at curbing the opioid crisis.

The approach of BMC’s study will be to partner with 16 communities across the state to test the impact of a community-engaged intervention with an integrated set of evidence-based practices delivered across healthcare, behavioral health, justice, and other community-based settings.

“The opioid crisis in Massachusetts has been devastating, as it has been across the country,” said Samet. “This research study is a major step forward. We will take what we’ve learned at Boston Medical Center and across Massachusetts over the past 20 years and work with our partners to bring those initiatives together to make a serious dent in the overdose death rate. It means pulling out all the stops.”

Massachusetts is a leader in clinical care innovations for substance use disorders that have saved lives, but even within the state, many of these care models are not widely available. Through BMC’s data and community-driven approaches, the researchers will work with communities to help address gaps in care and deploy innovative models of treatment that have been shown to support recovery.

“Two years ago, BMC launched the Grayken Center for Addiction to make a national impact in the fight against the opioid epidemic. This grant is further recognition of BMC’s expertise in this field and its longstanding commitment to forge strong partnerships with peers and community-based organizations and institutions to make a major impact on individuals and families affected by the opioid epidemic,” said BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh.

Known as HEALing Communities, the national study is being carried out in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which provides support for many of the local prevention, treatment and recovery support services to be studied.

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