UAMS researcher Meghan Breckling has received a $1 million federal grant to create a statewide program that will educate and train health care providers on ways to prevent deaths from opioid overdoses.
The award from U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services funds a five-year project to create and maintain the UAMS Arkansas Naloxone Education Training (ANET) program. Through the program, Arkansas providers will learn how to administer the anti-overdose drug naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan.
The program will also teach providers how to counsel patients for the use of naloxone, and fund harm reduction resources and local treatment options for those struggling with misuse of opioids, UAMS said in a news release.
Breckling, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy’s Center for Implementation Research, will serve as the program’s director and primary investigator on the project. In addition to her work with the College of Pharmacy, she is also a clinical research pharmacist with the Center for Addiction Services and Treatment in the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute.
“Deaths from opioid overdose are increasing in Arkansas, creating an urgent need for access to the lifesaving medication naloxone,” Breckling said in the release. “This program will provide one-to-one training and support to state health care professionals about how to talk with patients and communities about harm-reduction resources available in Arkansas, particularly naloxone. I am excited to have this opportunity to help develop this program aimed to improve and save the lives of fellow Arkansans.”
The program already has a number of committed collaborators, including:
- Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network
- East Arkansas Family Health Center
- Central Arkansas Harm Reduction Project
- College of Pharmacy residency programs
- Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services
UAMS Health AR ConnectNow and the UAMS Center for Addiction Services and Treatment (CAST) have also committed to supporting the program by providing information and resources for the training curriculum.
Trainers will target Arkansas populations likely to benefit from increased knowledge and access to naloxone, including individuals at high risk of opioid overdose. They will also aim to reach those who may be more vulnerable to accidental opioid poisonings, such as adolescents and older adults taking opioids acutely or chronically.
The program aims to train 125 naloxone-education trainers over five years, according to the release.
Each trainer will be expected to deliver two community-based naloxone education classes per year, using a 60-minute training module provided by the program.
The program’s goal is for each trainer to train at least 10 or more individuals during each class, which would result in more than 7,500 Arkansans receiving naloxone education training through 2028.