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Denver Health earns CDC grant to help develop treatments for methamphetamine use disorder

Denver Health
Posted at 9:03 AM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 11:03:50-04

DENVER — Denver Health has received a grant that will help it fund treatments for people with stimulant use disorders.

The grant, which comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), totals $2,173,000.

This money will boost the project called Beginning Early and Assertive Treatment for Methamphetamine Use Disorder (BEAT Meth). Dr. Alia Al-Tayyib, Dr. Deborah Rinehart, and Dr. Scott Simpson with Denver Health will serve as its co-principal investigators.

“Methamphetamine is the second-leading drug implicated in overdose deaths in Colorado, and we have to make better treatment options available in our community," said Dr. Simpson, who is the medical director of Psychiatric Emergency Services at Denver Health. "BEAT Meth combines early clinical recognition with intensive treatment including medication management, detoxification, and coordination of care.”

The goal of the project, which is part of Denver Health's Center for Addiction Medicine’s ongoing research efforts, is to develop and expand a treatment project to reduce illnesses and deaths associated with methamphetamine overdoses.

The hospital launched the BEAT Meth pilot program in 2020 to address an increasing number of patients who were admitted to the emergency department with methamphetamine-induced psychosis, the hospital said. It offers "pharmacotherapy for acute symptoms and includes a protocolized 48-hour treatment leveraging Denver Health’s Psychiatric Emergency Services, inpatient behavioral health team, treatment-on-demand counselors, and community partners like Crystal Meth Anonymous," according to the hospital. Since April 2020, it has engaged with 108 patients and found they were 22% less likely to return to the emergency department within a week compared to those not enrolled in BEAT Meth.

BEAT Meth showed promise early, which helped Denver Health secure the CDC grant.

"The focus of the grant will be to rigorously evaluate the BEAT Meth protocol and develop and assess a comprehensive linkage and engagement intervention to enhance continuation and retention in treatment," Denver Health said. "The investigators hope that BEAT Meth will also reduce the number of police street encounters and arrests among patients."

Dr. Al-Tayyib, associate research scientist at Denver Health, said the progress they have already seen is encouraging and the CDC grant will help them continue that work to develop and test interventions to keep patients engaged in care.