A new study identifies specific locations where medication and harm reduction services for people with opioid use disorder should be available in order to have the greatest impact on reducing opioid overdose deaths. Led by researchers at Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction, the data show that more than half of those who died of an opioid overdose in Massachusetts encountered the health care, public health and/or criminal justice systems within the 12 months prior to their fatal overdose. These results, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, provide a roadmap to better reach these individuals at high risk of overdose and provide treatment and harm reduction services in order to reduce the number of overdose deaths.
For this retrospective cohort study, researchers set out to determine how and where individuals encounter the health care, criminal justice and public health systems in the 12 months prior to their fatal overdose. In collaboration with Massachusetts Department of Public Health, researchers examined eight data sets for persons over the age of 11 in Massachusetts between January and December 2014 with health insurance, as identified in the All-Payer Claims Database.