Today’s opioid overdose and misuse crisis is a stubborn, complex, and multi-system problem touching individuals, families, schools, agencies, and employers throughout the country. Last year alone, over 2,000 people in Massachusetts died from an opioid involved overdose; 12 percent of those deaths occurred in Middlesex County, the 21st most populous county in America and located west and north of Boston.
In partnership with the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, AIR has initiated a cross-system study to develop locally-relevant and research-informed strategies to reduce and prevent opioid misuse. The project is examining data from multiple systems (such as law enforcement and public health), collecting information from people with opioid use disorders, mapping system resources and responses to the problem, and measuring system readiness to apply solutions rooted in research evidence.
Middlesex County has a diverse population and includes urban, suburban, and rural communities, reflecting Massachusetts demographics as a whole. Thus, learning from the project may be scalable to other areas of the state.
This initiative builds off existing community partnerships including the three regional opioid task forces led by the District Attorney’s Office. Participating agencies include first responders, law enforcement, health care and mental health professionals, educators, and municipal partners.
The final product from the study will be an Opioid Misuse Prevention and Reduction Plan, anticipated in spring 2018.