Denver Health Medical Center

The Denver Health Medical Center in 2013.

Denver Health was awarded more than $2 million from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention to fund more treatment options for those with stimulant use disorders.

The $2,173,000 grant will fund the Beginning Early and Assertive Treatment for Methamphetamines Use Disorder (BEAT Meth) project, a strategy to prevent stimulant-related overdoses, officials said.

"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. Scott Simpson, medical director of psychiatric emergency services at Denver Health. "BEAT Meth combines early clinical recognition with insensitive treatment, including medication management, detoxification and coordination of care."

Dr. Simpson, along with Dr. Alila Al-Tayyib and Dr. Deborah Rinehart, will serve as the project's co-principal investigators. The project is part of the Denver Health Center for Addiction Medicine's ongoing research efforts, the hospital said.

Last year, Denver Health launched the BEAT Meth pilot program to address the increasing number of patients who were admitted to its emergency department with methamphetamine-induced psychosis, officials said. 

However, unlike opioid-use disorders, in which medication relieves dysphoric symptoms of acute withdrawal and prevents relapse, patients with stimulant-use disorders often are combative and in an agitated state when while receiving care.

As a result, the BEAT Meth program offers patients pharmacotherapy for these symptoms and will connect individuals with inpatient behavioral health teams, counselors and community partners such as Crystal Meth Anonymous, officials said. 

Since April 2020, 108 patients utilized the pilot program and proved 22% less likely to return to the emergency department within seven days compared to another 257 patients who were not in the program, according to Denver Health.

"The progress we see in these patients is encouraging," Al-Tayyib said in the release. "The funding we have receive to continue this will work will allow us to expand our efforts and continue to rigorously develop and test interventions that aim to keep patients engaged in care through our Center for Addiction Medicine."


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