Lauber Receives Funding for Research on Overdose Deaths in Western Pennsylvania

Posted on 5/8/2018 2:20:57 PM

Professor Erick Lauber, of the Journalism and Public Relations Department and the Mid-Atlantic Research and Training Institute for Community and Behavioral Health, recently received funding to begin a study on drug overdoses in Indiana, Blair, Armstrong, and Cambria counties.

It is one of the many activities of Lauber’s Opioid Prevention and Community (OPACH) initiative, part of MARTI’s larger Heroin Research and Outreach Program. The research team behind the study includes professors Victor Garcia (Anthropology), Alex Heckert (Sociology), and Christian Vacarro (Sociology).

The four counties, as well as other surrounding counties, have experienced alarmingly high rates of overdose-related deaths in the past few years. The number of overdose deaths and EMS calls related to drug use, however, have recently dropped in Indiana and Armstrong, while in Cambria and Blair the two remained steadily high. In order to find the root of this phenomenon, Lauber and his team will conduct interviews with coroners, EMS responders, ER personnel, treatment providers, and police in each of the four counties.

Interviews will also be conducted with current and ex-drug users to gain insight from those who have or are living in the midst of a national health crisis. The information gained as a result of the study will be utilized to develop strategies for reducing overdose deaths and ER visits, as well as to inform communities throughout the state about steps they can take to help combat the persistent drug issue. The project, Opioid Overdose Death Rate Investigation, is funded by the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.