Yale investigators awarded grant for opioid addiction treatment

Dr. Emily Wang is the principal investigator for research supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The purpose of the research is to improve opioid addiction treatment in criminal justice settings. The grant, totaling more than $11 million, supports the five-year project period.

An estimated 20% of people suffering from opioid addiction, or opioid use disorder, were involved in the criminal justice system in 2016, and individuals recently released from jail have an eight times higher risk of drug overdose compared with the general population. Given this risk, several jails now treat opioid use disorder with medications. But in order to effectively treat addiction and reduce opioid-related mortality in the United States, former prisoners need to be connected to treatment upon release.

To address this problem, the National Institutes of Health awarded grants to 10 different research institutions that form the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network. The funding supports Yale’s clinical research sites in Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico. The overall research objective is to assess whether the Transitions Clinic Network (TCN) program, which provides enhanced primary care and addiction treatment for people recently released from incarceration, improves measures in the opioid treatment cascade.

Yale researchers will conduct a trial involving 800 individuals on medications for opioid use disorder who were released from one of six local jails (Minneapolis, Minnesota; Rochester, New York; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Durham, North Carolina; Caguas, Puerto Rico; and Bronx, New York) to compare the effectiveness of the TCN intervention versus referral to standard primary care on opioid treatment outcomes. Investigators will also study cost effectiveness, as well as barriers and facilitators to transitioning people with opioid addiction to the TCN.

Wang is an associate professor at Yale School of Medicine. She directs the Health Justice Lab, a collaborative, innovative, interdisciplinary team focused on improving the health of communities and individuals affected by mass incarceration.

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