Leading researchers in the fight to combat the opioid crisis are on a mission to attack the problem one community at a time.

HEALing Communities Study at the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s main goal is to reduce opioid related overdose deaths one community at a time.

“We bring together the local coalition, the local community members and they can look at their specific data in their community, but they can really tailor a solution that works for their community, so it’s not just a one size fits all approach but it’s something that’s customized for folks here in this community.”

Dr. Jennifer Villani – Associate Director of the HEALing Communities Study NIDA

Villani says they need partners from the sheriff’s office, health care organizations, behavioral health agencies, and social services to come and work together to help community members.

With their help they plan to implement practices that will help with opioid-related deaths.

“You need to have a naloxone or Narcan handy, but really any community member. If everyone has it we all are sort of armed to help someone, a neighbor, a friend in need and that just may be the thing that helps save a life.”

Dr. Jennifer Villani – Associate Director of the HEALing Communities Study NIDA

Dr. Redonna Chandler says people have shared positive stories with her, showing that the practices the communities are implementing are indeed working.

“A high school student who had naloxone and had been trained on how to use naloxone because of the HEALing community study in her particular county and her neighbor had overdosed was blue and non-responsive and she provided him with two doses of Narcan and that man is alive today because of that young woman.”

Dr. Redonna Chandler – Director of the HEALing Communities Study NIDA

“Success takes a long time, so it can get very frustrating to not see numbers go down as rapidly as you may have hoped if we increased naloxone distribution or decrease stigma, that doesn’t necessarily mean overdose fatalities are going to just stop overnight, it takes a long time and knowing that there are success stories and hearing them really gives you hope to move forward.”

Andrew Henry – Jefferson County Health Commissioner

Naloxone or Narcan can be found at the Jefferson County Health Department and the Family Recovery Center in Steubenville.