GovEx’s newly launched Applied Research initiative released its first case study on opioid addiction-related deaths and Baltimore City’s efforts to reduce these deaths through naloxone access and training policy. The case study also provides several recommendations for cities that are working to address the opioid epidemic, such as advocating for continued policy changes, targeting outreach, coordinating with the community organizations, providing a path for treatment, and measuring effectiveness.
“This case study illustrates Baltimore City’s comprehensive strategy of using data to target naloxone intervention in collaboration with community service providers to stem the tide on deaths caused by opioid addiction. Our hope is that city leaders consider implementing some of the recommendations in order to reduce the stigma of opioid addiction, and share their own successful strategies with peers” said Katherine Klosek, GovEx Director of Applied Research.
In Baltimore, 523 people died from opioid-related intoxication deaths in the first three quarters of 2017 — the most recent period for which data is available — compared with 443 during the same time period in 2016. Nationally, according to the most recent data available from the Center for Disease Control, opioids caused 42,249 deaths in 2016, and opioid overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than 1999.
At the same time, stigma on the access to naloxone has been declining. The number of organizations that represent public health interests and cities have supported community-based overdose education and naloxone distribution programs through expanding naloxone access laws.
Further, raising awareness can promote greater collaboration among prescribers, health providers and the community. And better coordination can ensure no duplication of services and resources, and spur ideas on how to improve the treatment system. It’s also critical that staff in the Mayor or City Manager’s office are aware of the work that is happening in their City and work with the community to coordinate efforts.