Taking on North Carolina’s Opioid Crisis through Research and Partnerships

September 19, 2018

Highlights from the Bass Connections Annual Report

Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach team members

In the U.S., drug overdoses now account for more accidental deaths than car crashes. A Bass Connections project team, Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach, explored the extent of the crisis in Durham and throughout the state.

The team’s research on heroin use, published in the North Carolina Medical Journal, shows that the number of opioid overdose deaths in the state increased by nearly 800 percent between 1999 and 2016. Findings at the county level suggest how officials could allocate resources toward the communities most in need.

Graphic from Duke team's research on heroin use published in NC Medical Journal

Team members also published an article in Nurse Educator, wrote opinion pieces for The Hill and the Durham Herald Sun, appeared on a local radio show and took part in the Health and Human Services Opioid Symposium and Code-a-Thon in Washington.

This research depended on extensive partnerships with advocacy organizations, first responders and the medical community.

In conjunction with Alliance Behavioral Healthcare and Duke Health, the team also organized four Mental Health First Aid training sessions for undergraduate, nursing and medical students. Over 100 members of the campus community are now certified.

Durham CIT Collaborative training on mental health and first responders

The project’s faculty leaders were Andrew Muzyk (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine) and Nicole Schramm-Sapyta (Duke Institute for Brain Sciences).

Bass Connections has allowed me to be a part of an interdisciplinary team, encompassing the perspectives from which you can tackle the opioid epidemic. We have done work that has been very local – reaching as far as Duke’s campus – and we’ve also completed projects that can affect the entire state. – Katie Kanter ’18

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Images: Erica Onuoha, Nicole Schramm-Saptya, Katie Kanter, Madeline Thornton and Grace Feng (by Kathy Neal); graphic from team article in North Carolina Medical Journal; Katie Kanter at the podium during workshop in partnership with Durham CIT Collaborative and others