BOSTON – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) today announced a partnership with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to launch a first-of-its-kind Middlesex County research study measuring the impact of opioid misuse. The data provided by public and private partners will examine system responses and readiness to apply evidence-based solutions to preventing and reducing opioid-related impacts.
“Families in Middlesex County have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and I hope this assessment will provide us with a blueprint to end the tragedies and help save lives,” said Senator Eldridge (D-Acton). I was happy to secure this critical funding in the Senate, and want to thank Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan for being a strong partner in our fight to end opioid-related deaths in Middlesex County.”
Middlesex County was selected for this project in part because of the unique demographics of the county that include urban, suburban and rural communities that mirror the rest of the Commonwealth. This initiative will build off existing community partnerships including the three regional hospital-based 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.
“Although the number of fatal overdoses has declined in the Commonwealth, people are still losing their lives to substance use disorders. What that tells me is that we can do more. In Middlesex County, we have been working diligently to address the opioid epidemic going beyond just enforcement and engaging in education, prevention, intervention, treatment and legislation, and bringing partner agencies together to streamline resources and share best practices. This new initiative is a strategic approach that builds upon these existing resources and partnerships using data that will inform our future efforts and identify even more opportunities to combat this public health crisis,” said Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.
The initiative will be a comprehensive approach that will look at existing data from public and private partners to get a “whole system” view of the current initiatives in place in the county in order to generate recommendations and identify future opportunities for opioid prevention, intervention and treatment programs. The final product will be an Opioid Prevention and Reduction Plan that will serve as a guide in Middlesex County and potentially across the Commonwealth to identify best practices and help direct resources to address substance misuse.
Today’s opioid crisis is a stubborn, complex and multi-system problem touching individuals, families, state and community agencies, and employers throughout the Commonwealth and across America. Last year alone, over 2,000 people succumbed to an opioid overdose in Massachusetts; 12 percent of those deaths occurred in Middlesex County.
In response, this project seeks to examine the complexity of opioid-related problems and leverage effective and sustainable solutions by looking at health and human services data as well as the experiences from those struggling with substance use disorders. Data from multiple systems, along with stakeholder interviews, will inform the most compelling problem areas to be addressed with the available resources.
In addition, a research review will identify evidence-based options of successful practices, and will inform solutions and action planning within the county.
“Sustainable solutions to this epidemic require strategies that are informed by local data and engage health, justice and social service systems to work on an integrated approach,” said Jennifer Loeffler-Cobia, AIR project director. “Working side-by-side with leaders from Middlesex County, we will leverage our expertise in analyzing data, drawing on best practices, and facilitating solutions that optimize the role that each system plays.”
The project will be funded by a $25,000 line item secured in the Massachusetts Senate budget for fiscal year 2018 with supplemental funding provided by AIR.
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and a major office in Waltham, MA, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org.