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Unified Nexus for Leveraging Opioid Crime Knowledge (UNLOCK)

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $997,971)

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) Program is the first major federal substance use disorder treatment and recovery legislation in 40 years and the most comprehensive effort to address the opioid epidemic. CARA establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, and balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery. The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based program was developed as part of the CARA legislation signed into law on July 22, 2016.

The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program aims to reduce opioid abuse and the number of overdose fatalities, as well as to mitigate the impacts on crime victims. The program also supports the implementation, enhancement, and proactive use of prescription drug monitoring programs to support clinical decision making and prevent the abuse and diversion of controlled substances.

To respond effectively to the opioid epidemic, stakeholders need access to timely and accurate data that provide a comprehensive view of the drug abuse environment. Unfortunately, data on drug abuse, treatment, and public safety outcomes are often maintained in different agencies and are not integrated in a way that supports the policy and practice needs of public safety, public health, or behavioral health partners. However, there are a growing number of models at the local and state levels that leverage information from a variety of public health and public safety data sources to analyze substance abuse issues and identify potential solutions from public health, treatment, and public safety perspectives. Specifically, models such as drug monitoring initiatives, overdose fatality review teams, and New York City’s RxStat Program create an opportunity to bring together stakeholders with different perspectives and different data sets. This information can be used to drive changes in policy or practice, monitor community-level outcomes, and implement proven practices on a larger scale.

The Institute of Business Analytics (IBA) is the research hub for the Culverhouse College of Business at the University of Alabama. IBA will develop the Unified Nexus for Leveraging Opioid Crime Knowledge (UNLOCK) system that will provide decisionmakers with the information they need to allocate resources and policies in a timely manner. The UNLOCK system will serve as a data communications pipeline whereby information from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Medicaid, and other future partners can flow back up the chain to decisionmakers in a de-identified manner. The data will consist of summarized toxicology information, evidence test results, and coroner death report information, and other geo-referenced data that will assist decisionmakers. The UNLOCK system will be deployed to field officers, law enforcement administrators, prosecutors, community affiliates, public health providers, and researchers to provide them with complete analytics capability.


Date Created: September 25, 2018