Successful Opioid Overdose Prevention Strategies

In 2007, Massachusetts became the first state to receive federal funds through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to address unintended fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses. Fifteen communities throughout the state were funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) to plan and implement innovative programs aimed at reducing the harmful impact of drug use. This initiative, known as MassCALL II (the Massachusetts Collaborative for Action, Leadership, and Learning), transformed how cities and towns responded to the growing, problem of opioid addiction.

MassCALL II funding ended in 2012, but several of the strategies put in place through these programs have been sustained, and serve as examples to other communities looking for ways to address opioid addiction and overdoses. Many of these communities, along with dozens of others, have been funded since 2013 through the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative, an initiative which expands the work of MassCALL II to include primary prevention as well as harm reduction strategies.

Steve Keel, Director of Prevention for the MDPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, describes the widespread and deadly impact of opioid abuse on the state in the period leading up to the 2006 application for MassCALL II funds, and the rigorous needs assessment and planning process that... more

Combatting opioid overdoses required the city of Quincy, MA to enter into a community-wide conversation with its citizens, as well as address the stigma around addiction among its own public safety officers.  This conversation led the police department to adjust their policy,... more

After realizing firefighters had limited resources to combat opioid overdoses, the Revere Fire Department worked with a MDPH Narcan Pilot Site to equip all fire apparatus with nasal Narcan, and collaborated with the MassCALL II project to train all fire personnel to administer the life-saving drug. After addressing internal resistance around the stigma of addiction, the Revere Fire Department... more

To address the high rates of opioid overdoses, the New Bedford Prevention Coalition reached out to the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, a faith-based collaborative with a wide range of member congregations. By working with faith leaders to increase understanding of addiction, decrease stigma, and educate them about treatment resources, the Council has taken a leadership role in... more

Joanne Peterson, Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope

Learn to Cope, a support group for families who have loved ones suffering from drug addiction, was founded in 2004 by Joanne Peterson and consisted of about 30 members. Currently, there are 12 chapters of Learn to Cope across the state of Massachusetts and over 4,000 website members. This organization offers education, resources, support, and hope to members whose children or siblings are... more

Roberto Sanchez, Program Manager for Overdose Prevention at Boston Public Health Commission

Individuals who have recently been released from the House of Corrections are considered to be at high risk for experiencing an opioid overdose, due to a decrease in drug tolerance due to having been drug-free for a period of time. As an intervention, the Roxbury-Jamaica Plain Substance Abuse Coalition went into the correctional facility to educate the inmates on opioid overdose prevention.... more

Picture of St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River

According to Brittany Lynch, a Health Promotion Advocate at Saint Anne’s Hospital, the Nasal Narcan Pilot Program has helped enhance the use of the SBIRT (Screening Brief Intervention Referral to Treatment) model at the hospital. Using this model, one is able to assess an individual’s involvement in a risky behavior, discuss the positive and negative aspects of this behavior with the... more