How proximity to substance use treatment programs affects opioid-related health outcomes
Despite federal and state efforts to reduce opioid availability and increase treatment access, opioid-related deaths are on the rise in New York and 29 other states. To examine whether geographic access to treatment options helped reduce opioid-related hospital visits and mortality in New York State between 2012 and 2014, CUNY SPH faculty Sean Haley, Andrew Maroko, and Katarzyna Wyka led a study with alumna Margaret Ryerson Baker published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
The researchers used spatial error regression models to examine the relationships among opioid-related health outcomes and geographic access to opioid treatment programs, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCS), and providers of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. The regression models showed significant negative relationships between county-level opioid-related mortality rates and geographic access to opioid treatment programs and FQHCs in 2012 and all three resources in 2014, suggesting that proximity to treatment services reduced opioid-related mortality in those years.
Access to treatment may not halt opioid overdoses or deaths, says Haley, but it may offset climbing mortality rates in certain New York counties.
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