Drug overdose is an emerging and imperative public health threat in Nebraska requiring efforts on multiple fronts including drug overdose prevention, prevention of initiation of misuse and abuse, collaborations across public sectors, and public health surveillance. This proposal describes the collaborative, evidence-based, coordinated, and comprehensive approach of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and its partners to address, counteract, and prevent drug misuse, abuse, and overdose.
Similar to the national trend, over the past decade Nebraska has seen an increase in the number of drug overdoses both fatal and non-fatal. The majority of drug overdose related deaths involved opioids (including Fentanyl), benzodiazepines, and psychostimulants with abuse potential including methamphetamine.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Drug Overdose Prevention program proposes nine strategies to address the drug overdoses and prevention of misuse, abuse, and overdoses issues in Nebraska. These nine strategies will focus on two over-arching themes; public health surveillance and prevention. The surveillance component of this proposal includes: 1) Improving and enhancing overall capacity to conduct surveillance 2) Collecting and disseminating timely data from emergency departments and hospital admissions for suspected overdoses 3) Collecting and disseminating timely data from unintentional and undetermined intent drug overdose deaths 4) Collecting biosurveillance data and 5) Linking fatal and non-fatal overdose data sources. The overarching purpose of these activities is to expand public health surveillance efforts, improve the quality and timeliness of the data DHHS collects, rapidly identify areas of outbreaks, gather further information about risk and protective factors, and disseminate this information for stakeholder and public consumption. These activities will support the Drug Overdose Prevention Program’s prevention activities, as well as provide valuable information to the Division of Behavioral Health and our local stakeholders.
The prevention component of this proposal includes: 1) enhancing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to increase interstate and intrastate data sharing and use; 2) Provide clinician education on evidence-based practices for pain management and on screening, diagnosis, and linkage to care; 3) Develop and maintain public health and public safety 4) Utilize navigators to connect people to services and ensure persons who use drugs have access to overdose prevention and reversal tools and treatment options, 5) Initiate linkage to care activities to support retention in care and maintain recovery. The central purpose of the prevention activities is to educate and give support to medical providers on promising prescribing practices, educate and support Nebraska’s public safety and first responders, build local capacity, and educate and bring awareness of misuse, abuse, and overdose issues to Nebraskans to help them make safer choices.
The combination of these activities and our collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders will provide resources and address the underlying issues contributing to drug misuse, abuse, and overdose in Nebraska.