Comparative study on the accessibility of opioid dependence treatment in Dallas and Tarrant counties and emergency department encounters linked to an opioid overdose




Fleming, Marc
Njoku, Collins
Roberts-Lagrone, Tyrane


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Purpose: Opioid dependency is an emerging health crisis nationwide that affects the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) community. There is limited research on the availability of opioid use dependency (OUD) treatment. Our study's objective was to examine the success rate of reaching a licensed OUD provider. Methods: Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, Texas-waivered providers who were listed to offer medication-assisted opioid dependence treatment were contacted to confirm availability. Providers were contacted during regular business hours between October and December 2019 using a standardized script simulating a patient seeking treatment. The data collected from 235 providers contacted in Dallas and Tarrant counties were compared to opioid-related emergency department (ED) visits found on the Texas Department of State Health Services website in 2014 and 2017. Results: In 2014 there were 308 (11.4%) opioid-related ED visits in Dallas and 228 (8.4%) in Tarrant out of the 2700 ED visits in Texas reported. In 2017 there were 962 (10.5%) in Dallas and 833 (9.1%) in Tarrant out of 9121 visits. Of the 137 providers in Dallas, and the 98 in Tarrant listed on the SAMHSA website who responded, 76 (55.4%) in Dallas and 53 (54.1%) in Tarrant offered OUD treatment. Conclusion: More licensed OUD providers are necessary due to increasing rates of opioid overdoses. These numbers suggest that despite an increase in opioid-related ED visits there is a lack of providers who are truly available to treat people who are dependent on opioids in DFW.