Across Massachusetts, and nationally, the ongoing public health crisis due to substance use disorder (SUD) and overdose is a leading cause of illness and death. In 2020, 2,035 Massachusetts residents died from overdose and a predicted 95,230 people died nationally over the course of the past year. The health harms of racism are increasingly evident in the ongoing overdose crisis, with a dramatic increase in opioid overdose deaths among Black and Latino residents in Massachusetts over the past year.
At Mass General Brigham, our clinicians and staff are working hard to improve outcomes for our patients and residents in the communities we serve. Mass General Brigham is investing over $2 million dollars in new funding this coming year to expand access to SUD treatment through several initiatives, with a particular focus on reducing racial disparities in access to treatment, consistent with our United Against Racism efforts.
The new efforts will include:
This new investment builds off the strong work that is ongoing at many of our hospitals and community-based clinics and will advance our ability to provide needed, accessible and low threshold services to treat SUD and save lives.
“Stigma and discrimination towards people with SUD has been one of many barriers preventing people from accessing effective treatment. National Recovery Month is a great opportunity to celebrate the lives, dignity, and health of people affected by SUD and to challenge ourselves to continue to advocate for and offer lifesaving and person-centered care,” says Sarah Wakeman, MD, Medical Director for Substance Use Disorder for Mass General Brigham. “Perhaps the most important thing we can each do is to remember that every single person we are interacting with is someone’s family member and each touchpoint with our healthcare settings is an opportunity to offer compassion, connection, treatment and harm reduction.”