The government eased access to drug addiction treatment during the pandemic. Now that could go away.

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced much of the US to lock down in the spring of 2020, officials and experts worried the necessary social distancing measures would make another public health crisis — the opioid epidemic — worse. Addiction treatment is traditionally done in person, and restrictions on gatherings and closed businesses would make it much less accessible.

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“Findings from this study and previous clinical trials of long-acting, injectable formulations of buprenorphine for opioid use disorder have shown this medication can decrease opioid use and opioid-related overdose deaths. This study found that greater utilization of this medication was associated with less opioid use and higher probability of opioid abstinence, improved or maintained low levels of opioid withdrawal symptoms, low pain levels, improved or maintained positive health related quality of life outcomes, minimal depression, and higher employment rates as compared to the values observed prior to entering the clinical trials for long-acting, injectable buprenorphine that preceded this study. At the same time, these findings should be taken in context. Because of the way this study was structured, it can’t be known what portion of these positive outcomes were driven by medication effects, versus participants’ intrinsic motivation, or other factors. This however does not diminish the growing evidence base highlighting benefits of long-acting, injectable formulations of buprenorphine. This class of medications can help support opioid use disorder recovery as a stand-alone treatment, but may be most effective when used in combination with psychological treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and/or mutual-help groups like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery.” 


Brendan Jacka, PhD, is an Investigator in Epidemiology at the Centers for Epidemiology and Environmental Health at Brown University. His pilot project, titled, “Trauma and stressor-related disorders among layperson opioid overdose responders”, seeks to understand the traumatic effects of responding to a drug overdose on community member responders in Rhode Island. This study is one of the first in the United States to examine and characterize stressor-related disorders related to overdose exposure in community members.

David Sobel, PhD, is a board-certified urologist at the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute and Kidney Stone Center at The Miriam Hospital.  He is also an assistant professor of surgical urology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His pilot project, titled, “Evaluation of a nonopioid recovery pathway after percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL)”, will examine the feasibility and acceptability of a nonopioid recovery pathway after PCNL, a minimally invasive procedure performed by urologists for larger stone burden in the kidney. His hypothesis is that a novel nonopioid pathway after PCNL is both feasible and safe and will reduce postoperative prescriptions for opioids without impacting clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction or outpatient resources.

Brendan and David’s pilot projects will aid the COBRE’s mission by helping to understand the mechanisms underlying opioid use disorder and by developing innovative solutions to help combat the opioid crisis.

For more information about Brendan’s project, click here.

For more information about David’s project, click here.

Jaclyn White Hughto

Coverage by PRWeb, November 23,2020

Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Epidemiology, Jaclyn White Hughto led a study that found that frequent exposure to negative depictions of transgender people in the media was significantly associated with clinical symptoms of depression, anxiety, global psychological distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder in this population.

Study is believed to be the first of its kind to explore the effects of exposure to negative transgender-related media across a range of platforms on transgender people.

By Joy Fishman

“The victory in Oregon gives me so much hope. It’s about getting thousands out of people out of jail and saving lives. It is about re-humanizing people who use drugs and treating people with compassion, offering them a helping hand instead of handcuffs. It is a victory for us all because it rejects the idea that those who use drugs are criminals who must be incarcerated to get help.”

Photo by Intropin via Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons 3.0

Jointly produced by several national addiction experts, this comprehensive report contains recommendations and evidence-based strategies for investment of litigation settlement funds to end the opioid crisis and mitigate future harms.

This report was designed to support and empower state and local officials in making critical allocation decisions and consolidates the best research evidence to provide recommendations for high-impact investments that will improve the addiction treatment system, strengthen prevention and harm reduction programming, and address substance use disorder within the criminal justice system. In addition to outlining the scientific support for each recommendation, the authors include detailed guidance related to economic impacts and policy considerations.

The contributing authors are foremost experts in their fields and represent organizations including: Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Yale University; Carnevale Associates, LLC; Partnership to End Addiction; Legal Action Center; University of Michigan School of Public Health; Stanford University; University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine; Friends Research Institute; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; RAND Corporation; and University of Pittsburgh. Funding support was provided by Arnold Ventures.

By Arnold Ventures

A new set of opioid abatement recommendations, developed by an interdisciplinary team led by Harvard health economist Dr. Richard Frank, helps states and cities understand how to use settlement funds to address opioid-related harms.

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By Josh Katz, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz

Drug deaths in America, which fell for the first time in 25 years in 2018, rose to record numbers in 2019 and are continuing to climb, a resurgence that is being complicated and perhaps worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.


Washington Post

Suspected overdoses nationally jumped 18 percent in March, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May, data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police shows.

“Nationwide, federal and local officials are reporting alarming spikes in drug overdoses — a hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic. Emerging evidence suggests that the continued isolation, economic devastation and disruptions to the drug trade in recent months are fueling the surge.”


When the machinery of justice is halted abruptly, some of the people trapped inside are not supposed to be there at all.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty
Contributing writer at The Atlantic

It’s tempting to think that what happens in prison stays in prison. But a virus doesn’t respect boundaries. It sneaks in with the guards and staff: Each day, three shifts a day, hundreds of potentially infected people walk into a prison and handle the inmates, shackle them, transport them, give them food and medicine. Once the virus gets inside prison doors, “it will go through the prison like a hot knife through butter,” said Rich, the Brown professor. Soon enough, transmission will run in the other direction. As prisoners are infected, they will infect the otherwise healthy staff, who return to their families.