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The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have launched the HEALing (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Communities study. In short, the study is a results-based intervention aimed at reducing overdose-related deaths by 40% over the course of five years. The HEALing Communities Study unites scientists, community organizations, and the public to address OUD by improving navigation services that connect people to care; increasing overdose education and distribution of naloxone; reducing drug-related stigma; and creating systems to track opioid use/overdose and available services.

Phase One of this study began in 2019 in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Kentucky with a focus in select rural and urban communities. The MATTERS (Medications for Addiction Treatment and Electronic Referrals) Network aligns perfectly with the goals and objectives of the HEALing Communities Study, as it prioritizes rapid access to medication for opioid use disorder.

Through MATTERS, patients choose a follow up appointment at the clinic of their choosing, typically within 24-48 hours of when they present to a provider. Patients with Medicaid or no insurance automatically receive a medication voucher that covers up-to a 14-day buprenorphine prescription (various formulations) and is redeemable at all CVS, Walgreens, and Wegmans locations across the state. Additionally, any patient who indicates they need transportation assistance is offered a free Uber Health round trip ride to their first clinic appointment. Individuals receive these resources regardless of co-occurring drug use, medical history, or insurance status. Referrals take about 5 minutes, are available 24/7, all without making a single phone call.

Partners in the HEALing Communities Study have begun joining the New York MATTERS Network to improve rapid access to buprenorphine and other medications for opioid use disorder. The partnership between MATTERS and the HEALing Communities Study across New York State will continue to grow as Phase Two of the study rolls out in 2022. Visit to learn more.