Challenges to Opioid Treatment Programs after Hurricane Sandy

Principal Investigator: Andrew Rosenblum

There are more than 300,000 opioid-addicted patients who are receiving methadone maintenance therapy from opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in the United States. Large numbers of these attend OTPs located in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Disruption of methadone dispensing and other services can have severe consequences to patients (and treatment seekers) such as relapse, dropping out of treatment and resumption or increase in HIV/HCV injection risk behaviors. The goal of this study is to develop recommendations for OTPs in their recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy and their planning for future emergencies by obtaining data from OTPs (directors, staff, de-identified records, and patients), out of treatment persons who subsequently sought addiction treatment, and New Jersey and New York SOTA Directors about Sandy preparedness and response.

For more information: Abstract

Supplement Study: This supplemental project will expand and extend the original aim and protocol of our study by conducting a national survey of at least 50 opioid treatment programs (OTPs). (Our current sample includes 9 OTPs that were affected by Hurricane Sandy.) The supplemental project sample will be stratified by region and urbanicity (rural, suburban, urban); and OTPs would be oversampled in areas that have a history of natural disasters to determine their disaster planning and recovery resources and needs. We also plan to interview state and federal officials to learn more about how key government agencies can help OTPs prepare for and respond to emergencies such as hurricanes, other weather-related events, terrorist attacks, and power and internet outages. Based on the current parent ASPR Sandy project (HITEP140014), we have already identified significant consequences of inadequate OTP preparation including increased injecting behavior, relapse to illicit opioid use, involuntary reductions in methadone dosage and suspension or termination of psychotherapeutic medications. These negative outcomes appear to be associated with incomplete continuity of operation plans (COOPs), particularly in the domains of transportation and communication, and the absence of relationships with alternative treatment programs. By conducting a nationwide survey we would be able to collect a robust, representative array of data to assure that findings are generalizable across the United States. We will disseminate our results to OTPs – as policy recommendations and as a model COOP – through AATOD, State Opioid Treatment Authorities, social media, and peer reviewed publications.

  • About NDRI
          Since 1967, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI), a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, has conducted substance use and other bio-behavioral research nationwide and throughout the world.

          Drawing on the expertise of our interdisciplinary professional staff and our partners such as medical centers, treatment and prevention programs, universities, CBOs, industry and government NDRI has advanced public health across diverse populations including high-risk and underserved persons, uniformed services, youth and veterans.

          In addition to its focus on addiction, NDRI, organized under specialized institutes, has generated scientific discoveries associated with infectious diseases (particularly HIV and Hepatitis C), overdose, chronic pain, prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, tobacco control and criminal justice.

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