Harm Reduction – Part 2: Overdose Education & Community Naloxone Distribution

One approach to preventing opioid overdose fatalities is to provide overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND). This is another form of harm reduction intervention. Access to these OEND programs has expanded to 30 states since the late 1990’s. OEND programs work to provide education about overdose prevention by instructing potential rescuers to recognize known risk factors for overdose; strives to empower people who use opioids to engage overdose prevention by recognizing and addressing modifiable risk factors; and as the name suggests, works to distribute Naloxone. Continue reading “Harm Reduction – Part 2: Overdose Education & Community Naloxone Distribution”

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Harm Reduction – Part 1: Heroin Clinics & Syringe Exchange Programs

The next two weeks we will be analyzing different components of harm reduction responses to the epidemic. Harm reduction involves strategies and tools that reduce the negative consequences of drug use. Many harm reduction responses that have been proposed and administered worldwide are not without controversy, as many see it as enabling those with substance abuse disorder. For example, here in the United States, we see Philadelphia creating the first ever supervised “safe injection” sites in an attempt to prevent overdose deaths.

Our neighbors to the north green lighted prescription heroin back in 2016. Vancouver actually started the trend in Canada back in 2015. Staff at the Insite center provide the addicts with clean syringes, antiseptic wipes, and quality heroin. Allen Schauffler, Pacific Northwest Correspondent for Al Jazeera, said this about the program: “If you give these people doses of heroin every day and keep them comfortable and keep them docile and keep the sort of demons of heroin addiction at bay, then those people are much less likely to end up in an alley, dead with a needle in their arm, or much less likely to sell themselves sexually for money to buy drugs, or much less likely to break into somebody’s car to steal something, or to shoplift or to strong-arm rob or to whatever. So the harm that they can cause to themselves and society is reduced if you simply give them the drug.”
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Reassessing Law Enforcement’s Approach to the Opioid Epidemic

This week, we took a look at various studies which assess the scientific basis of law enforcement interventions intended to prevent or at least minimize the negative effects of the opioid epidemic. Many people agree that we “can’t arrest our way out of the opioid crisis.” The end result of the “war on drugs” and the criminalization of addiction has led to a cycle of over-incarceration that has failed to address the root causes of drug abuse in our communities. Local governments are beginning to reassess those practices and shift their approach to drug enforcement. Below, we examine the effectiveness of suggested solutions and goals for law enforcement.
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What does effective treatment look like? Breaking down the Risk-Need-Responsivity Model

Drug courts are redefining how we approach the opioid epidemic, by putting it in context of a health issue, rather than a crime one. Because of this, we are able to see more people get clean and move on with their lives. We have already explored the effectiveness of drug courts, but what should treatment look like once they get there?

Over the past couple of decades there has been a decent amount of research focused on correctional rehabilitation. Together, the risk principle (i.e., “who” to target); the need principle (i.e., “what” to target); and the treatment principle (i.e., “how” to target) constitute the Risk-Need-Responsivity model, a commonly used model in the field of criminology that outlines effective correctional intervention.
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Medically Assisted Treatment: what’s healthy, effective, and affordable?

Research concerning opioid maintenance therapy in the U.S. began in 1962 when the Health Research Council of New York established  a research unit to investigate the feasibility of opioid maintenance. It took several decades before short-acting opioids were eliminated as options for maintenance therapy, and researchers began to focus on methadone. Other medications that have also since been developed include Buprenorphine and Naltrexone. Overall, it has been found that medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder are both clinically and cost-effective.
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Drug Courts vs. Business-as-Usual: exploring the effectiveness of a new system

Ohio currently has a total of 124 drug courts. However, these courts are only in 42 out of the 88 counties in Ohio. They range from Adult, Juvenile, Family, and Veterans Treatment. The purpose of drug courts are to guide offenders into treatment instead of prison, with the goal of reducing drug dependency and chances of reoffending; as well as to improve the quality of life for the offender and their families.
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