Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach (2017-2018)

In recent years, the incidence of opiate overdose deaths, opiate addiction and the resurgence of heroin use has been much in the news. The current crisis is the result of a complex combination of changing pain-medication prescribing practices, changing demographics of opportunity and a disconnected society.

This Bass Connections project began in 2016 with the goal of understanding the current epidemic and sharing knowledge with the public to alleviate this problem in Durham. In 2017-2018, the team published research on heroin use in the North Carolina Medical Journal showing that the number of opioid overdoxe deaths in the state increased by nearly 800 percent between 1999 and 2016. Team members also published an article in Nurse Educator, wrote an opinion piece for 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, DC.

The team also worked with the Duke Hospital Emergency Department (ED) to establish a program in which providers give the opiate-overdose-reversal drug naloxone free of charge to at-risk patients. The team prepared evidence-based proposal materials and presented them to ED leadership, identified patient criteria in Electronic Medical Records to trigger a “Best Practice Advisory,” prepared educational materials and surveys for providers to assess attitudes and intent and handed off the project to new leadership within the ED.

The team continued its partnership with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and assembled over 400 emergency naloxone rescue kits for distribution to at-risk populations. Additionally, the team partnered with Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, Duke National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Duke Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and DukeReach to sponsor two 8-hour Mental Health First Aid certification trainings in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, certifying over 100 members of the campus community from 2016 through 2018.

The team also strengthened its partnership with Durham’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) through two affiliated Data+ teams. In Summer 2017, a Data+ team analyzed 9-1-1 call data from Durham Police Department to assess the uptake of CIT’s programs among citizens and officers. In Summer 2018, a Data+ team analyzed jail incarceration data to assess recidivism among citizens with mental health issues.


Summer 2017 – Spring 2018

Team Outputs

Mary Funke, Marcus C. Kaplan, Holly Glover, Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Andrew Muzyk, Jennifer Mando-Vandrick, Alexander Gordee, Maragatha Kuchibhatla, Emily Sterrett, Stephanie A. Eucker. 2021. Increasing Naloxone Prescribing in the Emergency Department Through Education and Electronic Medical Record Work-Aids. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Alexander H. Gunn, Bryce Bartlett, Grace Feng, Matthew Gayed, Katie Kanter, Erica Onuoha, Madeline Thornton, Andrew Muzyk, Nicole Schramm-Sapyta. “Running the Numbers: County Level Dynamics of Heroin Mortality in North Carolina.” 2018. North Carolina Medical Journal 79(3):195-200.

Alexander H. Gunn, Zachary P.W. Smothers, Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Caroline E. Freiermuth, Mark MacEachern, Andrew J. Muzyk. 2018. “The Emergency Department as an Opportunity for Naloxone Distribution: A Systematic Review.” Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health 19(6):1036-1042.

Alexander H. Gunn, Bryce Bartlett, Grace Feng, Matthew Gayed, Katie Kanter, Erica Onuoha, Madeline Thornton, Andrew Muzyk, Nicole Schramm-Sapyta. 2018. “County-level dynamics of heroin mortality in North Carolina.” North Carolina Medical Journal 79(3):195-200.

Z Smothers, V Reynolds, M McEachern, AL Derouin, BM Carter, A Muzyk. 2018. “Substance use education in schools of nursing: A systematic review of the literature.” Nurse Educator May/Jun;43(3):136-139.

Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach (talk by Katie Kanter and Madeline Thornton at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018)

Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach (poster by Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Andrew Muzyk, Alexander Gunn, Grace Feng, Matthew Gayed, Katie Kanter, Erica Onuoha, Madeline Thornton), Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018

Presentation at Beyond Talking Points, half-day forum at Duke in DC (October 17, 2017)

Mental Health First Aid Workshop (November 4-5, 2017)

Participation in HHS Opioid Symposium and Code-a-Thon, Washington, DC (December 6-7, 2017; Grace Feng, Duke Forge delegation)

Mental Health First Aid Workshop (April 7-8, 2018)


Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach

The Opioid Epidemic: Will the Federal Response Get It Right?


Katie Kanter as a student and an alumna

This Team in the News

Sure Signs of Addiction: It's More than Just a "Feeling"

Understanding the Roots of Health Disparities in Durham

Med Students’ Paper Born of Bass Team on Opiate Epidemic

Medical Students Take Their Bass Connections Research Further

Duke Honored for Research Partnerships in Durham through Bass Connections and Data+

Use the Right Tools in the Right Ways to Address the Opioid Epidemic

North Carolina Opioid Crisis Getting Worse, Moving to Underground Market                                         

Study: Gaston County one of NC’s worst Counties for Heroin Overdoses                                    

Duke Study: Heroin Deaths Increased 13-fold in New Hanover, Brunswick Counties since 1999   

Henderson Man Charged with Second-degree Murder in Drug Overdose Death

Snapshots in Civic Engagement

Why an Interdisciplinary Approach Matters for Today’s Undergraduate Students

In Appalachia, the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Comes to the Pulpit

These 4 NC Counties, Including One Near the Triangle, Saw Heroin Deaths Spike

Mapping Opioid Use and Seeking Remedies across North Carolina

Mapping Opioid Use, Abuse, and Remedies

New Opiate Policies Can Help NC Prepare for Next Epidemic

Watch Highlights from the 2018 Bass Connections Showcase

Gaston Opioid Overdose Rate among Highest in State

NC's Opioid Problems Growing, Moving Underground

Duke Seniors Share What Was Most Meaningful about Their Bass Connections Experiences

Bass Connections Showcase Presents Research Highlights from Durham to Malaysia

Join Us for Two Bass Connections Special Events on April 18 and 19

As Duke Joins Effort to Combat Its Usage, Professors Analyze Opioid Consumption Uptick

Where Can We Do the Most Good? Duke Team Seeks Solutions to the Opioid Crisis

At Duke in DC Forum, Duke Faculty, Congressional Staffers Seek Solutions to Opioid Crisis

These Kits Will Save Lives, But There Is Much More Work Ahead to Stem the Opiate Epidemic

See related team, Stemming the Opiate Epidemic through Education and Outreach (2016-2017), and Data+ summer projects, Mental Health Interventions by Durham Police (2017) and (2018).

Team Leaders

  • Andrew Muzyk, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

/graduate Team Members

  • Alexander Gunn, Biomedical Sciences

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Grace Feng, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Matthew Gayed, Biology (BS)
  • Katie Kanter, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Erica Onuoha, Biology (BS)
  • Madeline Thornton, French Studies (AB), Global Health (AB2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Caroline Freiermuth, School of Medicine-Surgery: Emergency Medicine
  • Alexander Limkakeng, School of Medicine-Surgery: Emergency Medicine

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Durham Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)
  • North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
  • Alliance Healthcare