Seminars to address critical needs of local opioid crisis, including treatment options

By Cathy Wilde

Release Date: April 5, 2017

Stacey Sigmon

Janie Simmons

“Unfortunately, the number of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction is far greater than the number of clinic beds available in treatment facilities. Sometimes the wait can be months.”
Kenneth Leonard, director, Research Institute on Addictions
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions will present two seminars this month that continue UB’s mission to address Western New York’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Stacey Sigmon, PhD, of the University of Vermont Medical Center will discuss a groundbreaking interim treatment she developed to help opioid-addicted individuals who are on waiting lists to enter formal treatment programs at 10 a.m. on April 7.

“Unfortunately, the number of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction is far greater than the number of clinic beds available in treatment facilities.  Sometimes the wait can be months,” says Kenneth Leonard, PhD, RIA director. “Dr. Sigmon has developed an innovative stop-gap measure to address this pressing need and help keep people from overdosing during this critical waiting period.”

Sigmon has researched a treatment protocol offering opioid-dependent individuals an interim, in-home program using buprenorphine to help them reduce their use of opioids and potentially keep them safe from life-threatening overdoses until they can enter full-time treatment, and the results have been promising. Buprenorphine is an approved medication for opioid addiction that can prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Her findings were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sigmon is an associate professor in the University of Vermont’s departments of Psychiatry and Psychology. Since 2004, she has served as director of the Chittenden Clinic, Vermont’s first and largest opioid treatment program, which currently delivers methadone or buprenorphine maintenance treatment to approximately 1,000 opioid-dependent residents of the state. The clinic is a joint collaboration of the UVM College of Medicine, UVM Medical Center and Howard Center for Human Services.

In addition, at 10 a.m. on April 28 RIA will welcome Janie Simmons, EdD, an ethnographer and principal investigator with National Development and Research Institutes Inc., and an affiliated researcher with the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at New York University.

Simmons will discuss naloxone (brand name Narcan) and the computer-based, overdose-prevention training modules she developed as training for potential bystanders and police officers, firefighters and EMTs.

The Erie County Department of Health regularly offers free community trainings in opioid overdose recognition and the use of naloxone to counteract overdoses.

“The training program was developed under the auspices of the Opiate Epidemic Task Force, which includes community members, treatment providers and several UB faculty and scientists” Leonard says. “The online training Dr. Simmons has developed may be a valuable adjunct for those who are unable to attend the community naloxone training sessions, either due to time or distance.”

RIA seminars are free and open to the public. All seminars take place on the first floor of RIA at 1021 Main St. on UB’s Downtown Campus. For more information, contact Kathleen Parks, PhD, at 716-887-3301 or visit http://www.buffalo.edu/ria/news_events/seminars.html.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and a key contributor to UB’s reputation for research excellence. To learn more, visit buffalo.edu/ria

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