Opioid Overdose Prevention

opioid

In 2018, almost half of all overdose deaths in Harris County involved opioids, and drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Harris County, according the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences. A comprehensive, collaborative prevention initiative is critical to prevent opioid overdoses in Harris County.

With opioid overdose reaching a state of public health emergency nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has funded select public health departments to prevent opioid overdose, through its Overdose Data to Action cooperative agreement, including Harris County Public Health.

The Harris County Public Health Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, funded by the CDC, aims to prevent opioid overdose through three key strategies:

  • Improving data collection and analysis around opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose
  • Increasing linkage to treatment for persons living with opioid addiction
  • Partnering with agencies and key stakeholders to fund or enhance prevention activities
Data Collection and Analysis

Improved data collection and analysis will enable HCPH to better identify trends in opioid misuse, abuse and overdose, and communities with a lack of treatment providers. HCPH will develop a comprehensive data collection through robust data sharing with multiple agencies. This information will be used to guide prevention and treatment initiatives.

HCPH will work closely with the Harris County Institute of Forensics Sciences to gather more timely and comprehensive data on fatal opioid overdoses. HCPH will gather data on non-fatal overdoses from inpatient and outpatient data sources. In addition, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office will share opioid misuse and abuse data with HCPH. 

Linking Patients to Treatment

Opioid misuse or abuse can often lead to incarceration. Through its own departmental funds, HCPH will be providing the Harris County Sheriff’s Office jails with additional treatment medication for patient inmates with opioid addiction, and an additional licensed chemical dependency counselor. The additional support will serve to help inmates recover, and not relapse or overdose after leaving the jail system.

In addition, HCPH will support other partners linking patients to care for recovery including Houston Recovery Center and others.

Prevention

HCPH is funding Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) to train area physicians to prescribe medication treatment for persons addicted to opioids. This will increase capacity for treatment across Harris County to help prevent opioid overdose. Doctors for Change will recruit physicians to participate in the BCM trainings. The University of Texas at Austin Center for Health Communication will receive funding from HCPH to increase physician awareness and use of the prescription drug monitoring program—a tool used to prevent opioid abuse, which can prevent overdose. In addition, HCPH will fund the activities of existing agencies opioid prevention programs including the Houston Health Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the Patient Care Intervention Center.

Partners
Harris County Public Health is partnering with numerous community stakeholders to prevent opioid overdose through direct funding and/or collaboration.

  • Houston Health Department 
  • Harris County Sheriff’s Office 
  • Doctors for Change 
  • Patient Care Intervention Center 
  • Houston HIDTA 
  • University of Texas at Austin Center for Health Communication 
  • University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health 
  • Baylor College of Medicine 
  • Harris Department of Education
  • Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences 
  • Houston Forensic Science Center 
  • Harris County Medical Society 
  • Houston Recovery Center 
  • Institute of Spirituality and Health 
  • HOPE Clinic

Program Evaluation
The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health will evaluate the program’s prevention and data collection activities for efficacy.