Alabama Forms a Council to Counter Their State’s Opioid Epidemic

During the later half of this decade, Alabama was deemed as having the highest rate of opioid prescribing. As a result, the governor Kay Ivey established the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council to head the state’s efforts in reducing opioid abuse. The council is made up of six sub-committees: Data, Prescriber-Dispenser, Rescue (Naloxone), Treatment-Recovery, Prevention-Education, Law Enforcement.

On the last day of 2018, the Alabama Opioid Overdose and addiction council released their annual report, featuring their extensive recommended action plan. The plan has five overarching objectives: prevention, intervention, treatment, community response, and workforce. Out of these, they strongly suggested focusing on the prevention and community efforts initially.

Additionally, this report also identified some treatment and recovery support options. The council promoted the My Smart Dose and Courage for All media campaigns, which deal with misuse education and aid, respectively. The report also mentions a 24-hours-a-day helpline of which the council desires to increase statewide awareness.

Click to access FINAL-Alabama-Opioid-Overdose-and-Addiction-Council-Report-to-Governor-2018-Read-only.pdf

Massachusetts’ Community-Centered Approach Finds Success Against Opioids

In 2007, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) granted Massachusetts federal funding to address opioid overdoses. The state’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) then divided up the funds among fifteen communities to develop innovative programs to fight the opioid crisis. This strategy was dubbed the Massachusetts Collaborative for Action, Leadership, and Learning (MassCALL II).

In Quincy, Massachusetts, the police department began their efforts by adjusting their policy. Instead of arresting those in overdose situations for drug possession, they now allow for them to call for help without being charged. In addition, officers have been trained in identifying and dealing with opioid overdose, and all police vehicles have been equipped with nasal Narcan. The city’s opioid overdose deaths dropped by 66% in a matter of months.

Similarly, in Revere, Massachusetts, the fire department has received training regarding the application of nasal Narcan, and they carry nasal Narcan on all their vehicles as well. Since this implementation, they have saved more than 90 lives.

Bedford, Massachusetts has taken a more faith-related plan of attack. They have utilized their religious leaders to educate their community about opioid addiction and treatment options while also reducing some surrounding stigma.

Closely akin to Bedford’s efforts, the South Bay House of Corrections is focused on teaching as well. The Roxbury-Jamaica Plain Substance Abuse Coalition provides the inmates with intervention in the form of five classes and a graduation ceremony. The classes focus on inmate experiences with opioids and the police as the inmates help teach each other. As of now, there have been hundreds of graduates from this program.

Slightly differing, the Saint Anne’s Hospital has taken a consultation plan of attack. They named their model the Screening Brief Intervention Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Within this system, they gauge a patient’s involvement in dangerous actions, explain the good and bad aspects of it, and then help set up a plan to change their risky behavior.

Lastly, a group called Learn to Cope works across the state providing counseling. This program assists in supporting, guiding, and educating those with children o siblings suffering from addiction. Several parents within the organization are certified to train others on the application of Narcan, and 16 parents have saved their children from overdose using Narcan as of 2011.

With a rather community-oriented approach to tackling the opioid epidemic, Massachusetts has clearly already made groundbreaking progress. With evidence to support their method, perhaps other places across the world should look to Massachusetts to model their own plans.