AA&D's Harm Reduction Focus
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.
This public health challenge is compounded by the lack of a comprehensive ability to cope with the tragic situation in an urgent fashion with the necessary care. AA&D continues to work with partners across the harm reduction community to identify new, patient-centered ways to expand access to the life-saving drug naloxone, and to facilitate its timely and effective use. This off-patent drug is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose and is remarkably effective, safe and easy to administer. Recent policy changes have advanced naloxone accessibility in the legal and regulatory environments, but economic and institutional realities keep the drug from being available where and when they are most needed for people.
Center for Harm Reduction Engagement
AA&D is working to create a Center for Harm Reduction Engagement that will prioritize practical, operational research, and personal engagement with users and their families and ultimately be a vehicle to advocate for stigma-shattering policy reform at the local, state and national level.
The Center allows AA&D to further engage university student advocates in North Carolina to build awareness around syringe exchange, naloxone access, alcohol and drug amnesty, and other important policies that affect drug users and their social networks. This initiative draws upon ongoing research being carried out by pharmacy students to better understand where the gaps in knowledge and practice are within pharmacy education and practice. The center aims to build direct paths for pharmacists and other health practitioners to help advance the decline and end of the opioid epidemic while also linking the public to community-based harm reduction efforts.
Harm Reduction Realities
- Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the US
- Drug overdose deaths have more than doubled since 1999 in the US
- In 2015, 33,091, or 63%, of drug overdose deaths were associated with opiates
- Naloxone can reverse overdose and is administered by laypersons with very little formal training needed
- There is huge increase in the use of naloxone, but unreliable supply for groups that need more
- AA&D is working to establish an affordable, sustainable supply of this critical drug through policy, economic and distributional innovations