Project Lifeline, led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), seeks to improve public health through substance abuse screening and referral of at-risk patients in Blair County, Pennsylvania. The overall goal is to deliver actionable results that can be sustainable and replicable in other communities across the nation. The newly-formed collaborative care model includes Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships (BDAP) and several community pharmacies within the county.
“Project Lifeline advances the mission of the NACDS Foundation, as it centers on responding proactively to an urgent public health need—patient-centered, partner-driven solutions to prevent and treat opioid abuse and misuse,” said NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger. “The consequences of the opioid epidemic have been far reaching, and we are committed to evidence-based programs like this one that offer tailored, community-based approaches that hold the potential to impact patient care and communities broadly.”
Project Lifeline uses an evidence-based approach to pharmacists’ delivery of early intervention for individuals at-risk for substance abuse: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). BDAP is a central partner with community pharmacy through all phases of this project, providing a case manager to conduct assessments and referrals for substance use disorder.
“We are so grateful to the NACDS Foundation for supporting this project. We believe it has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of people in Blair County, where we work every day to help curb the opioid abuse epidemic, which is taking such an immense toll on our community,” said Judy Rosser, executive director of Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships. “We look forward to implementing it and demonstrating its effectiveness so others across the county can learn and benefit from it in their own communities.”
The Project also aims to increase substance abuse screening; build vaccination uptake for hepatitis B; improve access to hepatitis C and HIV testing; and expand access to naloxone, a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The need for vaccination increase in hepatitis B and improving access to hepatitis C and HIV testing is demonstrated by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggests that the recent steep increase in cases of acute hepatitis C virus infection is associated with increases in opioid injection. And, despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, barriers to preventing hepatitis B infection in the U.S. remain. These barriers include low rates of hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults and increased rates of injection drug use—a major risk factor for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infections.
CDC states that the current opioid abuse epidemic “requires immediate attention and action,” which underscores the importance of advancing partnership projects like these to help prevent opioid abuse.