2023 SAEMF NIDA Mentor-Facilitated Training Award - $12,000

"Decreasing Risk and Stigma Among Patients Who Use Drugs"

The prevalence of emergency department (ED) visits by patients with a substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is nearly 10%, and in hospitalized patients is 12%. The one-year mortality for patients in the ED who survive an opioid overdose is greater than 5%. People who use syringe access programs are significantly more likely to enter treatment, and qualitative data has also shown that patients are more likely to present to healthcare settings when sterile and clean drug use equipment is distributed. While many addiction specialists understand the principles of harm reduction and employ them in their practice, few nurses or medical providers outside of addiction medicine have safer-use conversations with their patients, and even fewer hospitals or EDs distribute sterile injection and drug use equipment. Through this project we hope to increase the dissemination of harm reduction teaching by our hospital staff and thereby decrease the stigma and negative consequences experienced by patients who use and inject drugs.


  • Weisenthal_photo.jpg_202302082154

    Karrin Weisenthal, MD, MHS

    Boston Medical Center

    "Decreasing Risk and Stigma Among Patients Who Use Drugs"

    Karri Weisenthal, MD/MHS is a fellow in Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center, per diem attending in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center, and clinical instructor at the Boston University Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine. She graduated cum laude from the Yale School of Medicine and completed her residency training in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center, serving as education chief during her final year. She has been recognized for her academic merit and teaching abilities, receiving awards such as the David A. Frommer Award for Academic Excellence and the Senior Resident Teaching Award. Upon completion of her fellowship, she has accepted a position at Boston Medical Center with joint appointments in emergency and addiction medicine.

    Dr. Weisenthal is an active researcher in the fields of emergency and addiction medicine. Her current research interests include improving initiation and access to medications for opioid use disorder in the emergency department (ED) with an equity lens, ensuring smooth transitions of care from the ED to outpatient settings for patients identified with a substance use disorder, and integrating a harm reduction approach into the care of patients who use drugs in the ED. She is grateful to have been awarded the NIDA Mentor-Facilitated Training Grant, and the opportunity to develop an ED provider and nursing curriculum focusing on the incorporation of harm reduction into the care of patients who use drugs and access emergency services.