Co-Principal Investigator: Lucas Hill, Pharm.D.

Texas has significant challenges with opioid drug/misuse, overdoses, and deaths. Texas ranks second to California in the number of individuals who meet criteria for dependence or abuse of heroin or pain relievers who have not received any treatment. In addition, from 1999 to 2014, drug poisoning deaths related heroin and other opioid drugs in Texas increased 293 percent.

This project responds to these alarming trends by addressing knowledge gaps that exist in Texas communities regarding overdose prevention and making sure that these communities are equipped with resources, including Naloxone, to prevent overdoses and overdose deaths.

Operation Naloxone is funded by a grant program from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) aimed at addressing the opioid crisis by increasing access to treatment, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid (heroin and nonmedical pain relievers) overdose-related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for opioid use disorder, which includes both prescription opioids as well as illicit drugs.

The specific goals of Operation Naloxone are to (a) prepare and implement a marketing plan to increase information dissemination regarding Operation Naloxone, in person trainings to address opioid use disorder, overdose prevention, transmission of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and HCV treatment and (b) prepare, locate and implement trainings across Texas in opioid awareness, overdose prevention and Naloxone use. Data will be gathered as to the impact of the trainings and the effectiveness of the Naloxone distribution and outreach.

The project will  create a marketing plan for providing in-person trainings to state agency partners. Additionally, the project will conduct over 30 in-person trainings Texas-wide and deliver these services to end-users of medications including family, friends, counselors, case managers, persons in recovery or persons actively using substances. Topics that these trainings will address include what are opioids, how they work, understanding Naloxone, overdose and overdose response. Community engagement will also be provided on these topics, and educational materials will be given out at these trainings.

This project will directly save lives by preventing overdoses and simultaneously educating communities on opioid use disorder, overdose prevention, and HCV transmission and treatment through in-person trainings. The innovation centers around the development of Operation Naloxone (with continuing education provided by and a diversity of settings for in-person trainings (e.g., professionals, peer recovery coaches, medication-assisted treatment agencies, justice/police settings, and Recovery Oriented Systems of Care). The effective dissemination of information and Naloxone via Operation Naloxone will be a model for addressing the opioid epidemic and promoting healthy communities.