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Community-oriented approaches to opioid abuse among the homeless in Allegheny County: a literature review

Naper, Katie (2015) Community-oriented approaches to opioid abuse among the homeless in Allegheny County: a literature review. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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The magnitude of opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels as national survey data reveal that 4.5 million people across the country abuse medications intended for pain relief. Especially hard hit, all counties of southwestern Pennsylvania exceed the state’s mortality rate for deaths due to prescription drugs. The co-occurrence of substance abuse and homelessness has already been well established. As the homeless population of Allegheny County has increased, research that indicates drug overdoses have replaced HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of mortality among the homeless, with 80% of drug overdose deaths attributable to opioids, warrants concern. This article presents a review of treatment options for the homeless population with opioid use disorder which may be feasible to offer before securing housing, based upon recently published literature. A search of PubMed was conducted. It was restricted to English-language articles with human subjects published between 2011 and 2015 that address therapies for opioid related disorders among the homeless. The term “opioid related disorders” as a MeSH Major Topic yielded 2,620 publications. The addition of the term “therapy” as a MeSH Subheading restricted the list to 1,901 publications. Further applying “homeless” as a term to be searched in all fields produced the final list of 15 publications. Review of these articles for relevance to the stated topic produced three publications for consideration. Lessons gained from these programs demonstrate the importance of designing a public health approach to offer treatment for opioid abuse to the homeless, including the use of unconventional treatment sites, offering medication assisted treatment (MAT) and utilizing a harm reduction approach to establish housing. As the number of programs available and referral and utilization of the programs increase, special consideration should also be given to sources of funding. While the design of this review captures only three studies, future research should continue to examine social ecological influences on homelessness and opioid abuse to identify feasible interventions. Healthcare stakeholders must consider the importance of complex social ecological factors when determining how to address this epidemic and its immense financial and humanistic costs.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Naper, Katie
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFinegold, David Ndnf@pitt.eduDNFUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberTerry, Marthamaterry@pitt.eduMATERRYUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberMair, Christinacmair@pitt.eduCMAIRUNSPECIFIED
Date: 21 December 2015
Date Type: Submission
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Multidisciplinary MPH
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 19 May 2016 21:54
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 11:55


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