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Using a Village to Solve NC’s Opioid Epidemic

By Anuradha Rao-Patel | January 29, 2019 | Community Health

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The opioid epidemic continues to touch every corner of our state, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is making progress in solving the problem.

In the past year, we have…

Began limiting first-time prescriptions of short-acting opioids to a seven-day maximum supply. This is meant to lower the risk of chronic opioid use and limit the number of unused opioids that can wind up being misused, whether intentionally or not.

Invested in TROSA to help the Durham-based substance abuse recovery program create new capacity in the Triad area and improve access for Western North Carolina residents.

Gave our support to the UNC School of Government to develop community-based resources and programs, working with faculty and staff in 10 communities hit hard by opioid addiction. 

Collaborated with Mutual Drug member pharmacies and Inmar distribution services to provide 85 year-round drop-off facilities across the state for the safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescription medications.

Advocated for our customers by serving on advisory groups like the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Payers’ Council and the North Carolina Medical Board’s Continuing Medical Education panel.

Created a new website offering resources in the fight against opioid misuse and providing updates on progress in our state’s efforts to address the problem.

As you can see, we’ve worked on a number of fronts to fight the opioid epidemic, but we believe more must be done and we can’t do it alone.

The answer to solving the opioid epidemic can’t come from one person or one effort alone; instead, it takes a comprehensive approach to find quality solutions.

Grant Recipients Announced

The idea of a broad, statewide approach led Blue Cross NC to launch a community grant process in the fall of 2018 to help local officials address opioid abuse. Today, we’re excited to announce five recipients of portions of a $2 million grant.

  • Duke University Health Systems: To expand access to care in rural communities, Duke University Health Systems will use our investment to further develop their mobile health tool, Symmetry. The platform will help educate patients on how to appropriately use prescriptions and teach clinicians ways to spot potential misuse before abuse begins. The goal of Symmetry is to standardize opioid screening, prescribing and monitoring.
  • UNC School of Medicine: Through their UNC ECHO for MAT program, the UNC School of Medicine will use our investment to make it easier for providers to use evidence-based treatment to address opioid use disorder. Their approach will incorporate primary care, behavioral health and group therapy to provide a holistic approach to substance abuse.
  • Rowan County Health Department: The Rowan County Health Department will use our investment to create a Post-Overdose Response Team that brings emergency care to opioid users and provides ongoing support to help them become drug-free. This model helps promote community and individual wellness.
  • Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: Our investment will fund a two-year project between Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and Stanly County Emergency Medical Services that will train paramedics to administer buprenorphine and help opioid overdose survivors get into long-term Medication-Assisted Treatment programs.
  • Together for Resilient Youth (TRY): TRY will use our investment to launch a new program called Forward Together, which will help implement effective recovery supports and services for individuals of all ages and other diverse populations affected by mental illness or substance use disorder.

These five organizations will help create system-level changes across prevention, treatment, and recovery – our three-pronged approach to addressing the opioid epidemic. We’re confident that together we can continue to transform communities to lessen the human and financial costs of the opioid epidemic for all North Carolinians.