Zero Stigma. Zero Deaths.


For immediate release:


Boston – January 22, 2019 — RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE) released a report today by the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division on recovery coaches, a peer support professional used in treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). The report was commissioned to study the effectiveness of recovery coaches, define and examine their role in treatment, and understand current payment methods. The paper and policy recommendations will be presented on January 23rd to the Recovery Coach Commission established by Governor Charles D. Baker.

“Recovery coaches are already being used in OUD treatment, but there was little research about their effectiveness,” said Julie Burns, RIZE executive director. “RIZE funded this report to fully understand the role recovery coaches play in helping people through treatment, make recommendations based on these findings, and inform policymakers, providers, and payers.”

The report summarizes the literature on effectiveness of recovery coaches, outlines certification requirements in 48 states and the District of Columbia with a custom search tool, and examines funding sources. A cost estimator tool accompanies the report to show likely expenses and return on investment.

Additionally, ten organizations using recovery coaches and their approaches were studied. The specifics of recovery coach responsibilities and roles varied; they work in health care and community settings, ranging from hospitals and treatment centers to police departments. The research found some common approaches, including supporting different recovery paths determined by individuals in treatment, recovery coaches engaging and communicating their personal and lived experiences, and prioritizing self-care.

“Our research showed that recovery coaches have a remarkable ability to engage individuals with addiction at the most hopeless point in their lives and help them to take the first step toward recovery,” said Katharine London, MS, Principal of Health Law & Policy at Commonwealth Medicine. “That discovery, and the rest of our findings, led to the development of policy recommendations the Commonwealth can implement to support the essential work of recovery coaches in OUD care.”

Policy recommendations for recovery coach programs include:

  • Prioritizing lived-experience
  • Incorporating self-care
  • Supporting workforce development, including training, certification, and career advancement
  • Providing a sustainable funding mechanism
  • Establishing a state-sponsored certification process
  • Establishing data collection tools and supporting evaluation of effectiveness

To stabilize payment methodologies, the researchers recommend insurers allow for flexible funding mechanisms to cover different services. Most programs are funded by grants or donations, with some support coming from public and private insurers or individuals that self-pay. Lack of consistent funding affects a program’s ability to offer recovery coach services.

Recovery coaches serve as a resource for individuals with substance use disorder by navigating treatment and recovery, providing encouragement, and building connections to community and services. With the recommendations from this report, these interventions could be further measured and maximized for effectiveness, engaging more people with OUD in treatment and recovery.

“Recovery coaches are on the front-line delivering lifesaving services to people seeking or in recovery from substance use disorders.  In order to do their work effectively, they deserve a system that supports certification, adequate payment methods, supervision and support, and the required trainings to meet quality standards” said Haner Hernandez, PhD, CPS, CADCII, LADCI.


Link to the recovery coach report, certification and cost estimate tools.

December 20, 2018 (Boston, MA)– Two reports commissioned by The RIZE Massachusetts Foundation, an independent nonprofit foundation committed to achieving zero stigma and zero deaths related to opioid use disorder, show that the opioid epidemic is taking a profound toll on the state’s economy, workforce and state budget.  The reports, the first of their kind, also provide recommendations on how employers can help employees with opioid addiction by increasing access to treatment and recovery.

“Our economy and workforce are strong today, but as these reports show, the opioid overdose epidemic is having an increasingly negative impact on our businesses, employees, and state budget.  Over time, these impacts will threaten our financial stability and ability to compete in the global marketplace,” said Julie Burns, executive director of RIZE Massachusetts.  “The results of these reports make the case that businesses should create recovery-friendly workplaces that will save lives and contribute to ending the human and economic toll caused by this epidemic.”

One report, The Massachusetts Opioid Epidemic: An Issue of Substance, was produced by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed public policy organization focused on state and local fiscal, tax, and economic policies. The full report can be read here.

The report brings forward first-time data on the negative economic impacts caused by opioid use disorder, including:

  • Opioid use disorder cost Massachusetts businesses $4.7 billion in 2017 in lost productivity, presenteeism (going to work despite being unable to fully function), and excess health care costs.
  • Massachusetts’ gross state product, a measure of economic output, would have been 12 percent higher than actual growth if not for opioid-related losses in productivity.
  • The opioid epidemic cost the state budget more than $1.8 billion in areas like the Department of Public Health, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Children and Families, and the criminal justice system.
  • Opioid use disorder cost the health care system in Massachusetts nearly $1 billion in 2017.
  • Opioid use disorder is costing municipalities across the Commonwealth more than half a billion dollars a year in first-responder and opioid-related police costs.

“By exploring and explaining the economic and fiscal impacts of opioids on the state, we hope this report catalyzes greater urgency and engagement from all segments of our society in the battle against the scourge of this epidemic – particularly among Massachusetts employers,” said Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

The other report, Opioids in the Workforce, was produced by the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  It provides data on the impact of opioid use disorder on the Massachusetts workforce and provides a set of recommendations for employers.  The full report can be read here.

The Opioids in the Workforce report shows that:

  • Employers mistakenly believe that opioid use disorder has a small impact on the employed population. However, 55 percent of people with opioid use disorder are full-time employees and 37 percent are on their employers’ commercial insurance.
  • Stigma is a major impediment to employees struggling with opioid use disorder taking advantage of employee benefits that could assist them and to companies creating a workplace conducive to long-term recovery.
  • Half of white men 25 to 54 years old who were out of the labor force report chronic pain and daily use of opioid pain medications.

Opioids in the Workforce includes specific employer recommendations, including:

  • Engage senior leadership in supporting a stigma-free and recovery-friendly workplace.
  • Apply careful analysis and attention to the unique needs of each workplace.
  • Engage with health plans and treatment providers to influence the quality of treatment provided to employees with opioid use disorder.
  • Eliminate barriers to treatment by removing co-pays and prior authorization for medicines and counseling related to opioid use disorder.
  • Work with prescription benefit managers to help limit access to opioids and identify problematic prescribing patterns.

“Employers can play a unique role in addressing the opioid crisis in Massachusetts,” according to one of the report authors Constance Horgan, ScD., Professor and Director at the Institute of Behavioral Health, Brandeis University. “This study provides employers with examples of ways to implement and improve effective approaches.”

Report from Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) explains why employers need to help combat the growing crisis and its devastating toll on people’s lives, businesses and the economy MTF to host a Forum on November 16 featuring Governor Baker, Attorney General Healey and an interview with Congressman Kennedy

Boston, MA–November 14, 2018–The opioid crisis has become an epidemic that is having significant negative impacts on Massachusetts businesses and the state’s economy, and will continue to do so unless decisive action is taken to reverse current ominous trends, according to a report issued today by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, an independent,non-partisan public policy research organization.

The study, made possible by a grant from RIZE Massachusetts, a nonprofit created to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts,is the first attempt to quantify the strain of the opioid crisis on the Massachusetts economy and its cost to employers, health care providers, and state and municipal budgets.

“By exploring and explaining the economic and fiscal impacts of opioids on the state, we hope this report catalyzes greater urgency and engagement from all segments of our society in the battle against the scourge of this epidemic –particularly among Massachusetts employers,” said MTF President Eileen McAnneny. “All segments of our society must rally together to reverse the daunting trends and relieve the enormous human suffering and economic burden of this ever-expanding crisis.”

MTF will host a Forum on November 16 to discuss how to best tackle opioids in Massachusetts. Featured speakers include Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, and other distinguished leaders from business, health care, and other human services. In addition,a videotaped interview with Congressman Joe Kennedy III will be aired during the event.

“The opioid and fentanyl epidemic is a tragic issue that sadly knows no geographic boundaries and impacts people from all walks of life in communities of all sizes,” said Governor Baker.“While some progress is being made through initiatives like the implementation of the MassPAT prescription monitoring program, increased availability of naloxone, and a greater focus on tools like recovery coaches, there is still a lot of work left to do and we look forward to incorporating important data and analysis from this Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report into our daily work to stem the tide of this public health epidemic.”

“The opioid epidemic has reached just about every community in Massachusetts and across this country,” said Attorney General Healey. “We see it within our own families, and among friends and neighbors. This comprehensive report brings a unique look into the economic and fiscal impacts of this devastating crisis on our state, and shows that while our efforts are making a difference –we have much more work to do. I look forward to working with Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, RIZE, and the business community to continue finding ways to address this growing public health crisis.”

“We cannot adequately address our nation’s opioid epidemic until we truly understand its human, economic and societal costs,” said Congressman Kennedy. “With this report, we can begin to study how this crisis terrorizes our families and communities, and strains our health care system, our courts, our law enforcement and our businesses. Today, we will take a step forward in this fight,but we cannot rest until treatment is within reach for anyone who needs it.”

Among other alarming findings, the report reveals that the opioid epidemic is having an enormous impact on Massachusetts businesses by making an already tight labor market even more challenging,and calls upon business leaders to engage more directly and actively to seek solutions to this growing crisis.

The key findings of the report are:

The opioid epidemic is far from over and will probably get worse.

  • The crisis has moved to its deadliest phase to date, characterized by a transition from heroin to fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances, including carfentanil and other fentanyl-related analogs which are 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 5,000 times more potent than heroin.
  • The number of fentanyl-related deaths in the U.S. soared from 2,628 in 2012 to 29,406 in 2017, a ten-fold jump in just five years, and this trend shows no signs of abating.

Massachusetts is at the forefront of the epidemic.

  • Massachusetts had the fourth highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the nation at 30.2 per 100,000 of population in 2016, which was2.3 times greater than the U.S.average.
  • Opioid-related deaths nearly quadrupled in Massachusetts from 560 in 2010 to 2,154in 2016.

The impact of opioids on businesses is significant.

  • Opioids have kept an estimated 32,700 people from participating in the labor force in Massachusetts over the past seven years, making it all the more challenging for employers to find people to fill open positions.
  • Another estimated 143,000 employed individuals(4.2% of total employed in the state) report pain reliever misuse and experience on average 18 more days off from work than those who do not misuse prescription pain medications.
  • Lost productivity from absenteeism and presenteeism (i.e., reduced job performance due to an illness, injury or anxiety)in the state is likely more than $2.5 billion annually.

The fiscal costs of the epidemic are enormous–and the trends are alarming.

While the full costs of the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts cannot be quantified because, as noted in the report, costs in several areas cannot be calculated, the report estimates:

  • Lost productivity in Massachusetts from people unable to work, foregone income due to fatalities, absenteeism and presenteeism, and excess health care costs to be approximately $9.7 billion.
  • Costs attributable to opioid programs and services across systems in Massachusetts (health care providers, the state and municipalities) to beat least $5.5 billion.

“This report by MTF, confirms what we knew to be true, the opioid epidemic is not only taking an enormous toll on families everywhere, it is also costing Massachusetts billions of dollars and severely limiting our economic growth,” said Dr. David Torchiana, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare and RIZE Board Chair. “The size of our response must meet the full scope of this crisis and we need to work together on community-wide solutions. Hopefully public, private and nonprofit sectors can continue to come together to change these trends, protect the future economy, and help those in the grips of this terrible disease.”

BOSTON – November 1, 2018 – In addition to immeasurable human suffering, the issue of opioids in the workplace has not received the attention it demands.

A new report, Opioids in the Workforce, issued this morning at the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, in partnership with RIZE Massachusetts, researchers from the Institute for Behavioral Health at the Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management, found that while many employers are concerned with opioid use disorder (OUD) in the workforce, there is no consensus on the best approaches and stigma remains a major obstacle to action.  The breadth of this epidemic is moving many employers to take action, as the crisis increasingly affects their employees and business.

According to today’s report, which offers strategies and examples of employers who have implemented effective and innovative approaches, the annual impact of prescription opioid misuse on Massachusetts’ employers, employees and dependents is estimated at a minimum of $1.7 billion for increased heath care and OUD, criminal justice involvement and lost productivity in the workplace. The actual cost of this epidemic will likely continue to rise due to additional societal costs such as increased burden on the foster care system, first responders and caregivers.

The urgency of the opioid epidemic raises the possibility of and opportunity for implementing effective approaches to the prevention, identification and treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) throughout the Commonwealth, including the workplace.

This morning’s event featured a discussion of the new report with authors, Constance Horgan, ScD., Professor and Director at the Institute of Behavioral Health and Nancy Lane, PhD, Visiting Research Scholar, Institute for Behavioral Health, along with Monica Bharel, M.D., MPH, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and J.J. Bartlett, President of the Fishing Partnership Support Services.

A second panel featured program and policy experts who discussed specific impacts of the opioid epidemic on employers and employees and innovative approaches underway to tackle the crisis. Panelists included: Rachael Cooper, Senior Program Manager and Subject Matter Expert, Substance Use Harm Prevention, The National Safety Council; David Chamberlain, Principal, Strategic Benefit Advisors; Kate Walsh, CEO & President, Boston Medical Center; Jeffrey W. Werner, Executive Director, New England Carpenters Benefit Funds; Kenneth Duckworth, MD, Associate Medical Director for Behavioral Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

“The opioid epidemic has taken a huge toll on the workforce. Employers are struggling with worker shortages, absenteeism, and increased costs and individuals are working to provide for their families while also trying to manage and treat their disease” said Julie Burns, Executive Director of RIZE Massachusetts. “From this report, we see that employers can be part of the solution and there is more we can do together to change the course of this terrible disease.”

In interviews with 36 stakeholders, including employee and industry groups, academics and researchers, benefits managers, health plans, providers, advocates and government leaders, Dr. Horgan and her team found that common themes included employers’ uncertainty regarding how to address the opioid epidemic, the need for workplace-specific solutions, and the prevalence of stigma around SUD and medication for addiction treatment.

“Employers can play a unique role in addressing the opioid crisis in Massachusetts,” according to Dr. Horgan. ”This study provides employers with examples of ways to implement and improve effective approaches.”

The report found that individual employers vary widely in their awareness of opioid use and addiction issues.  The report found that this disparity is particularly evident in safety-sensitive occupations, such as the construction and fishing trades – industries most hard-hit by the opioid epidemic because of the physical demand and the high degree of stress in these occupations. According to a 2018 MA Department of Public Health report on opioid-related overdoses, the fishing, farming and forestry industries in Massachusetts have experienced an opioid overdose death rate of 144 per 100,000 workers, over five times the average rate for all state workers.

In response, the Massachusetts Fishing Partnership Support Services, a non-profit organization founded in 1997, has integrated a set of member programs that focus on preventing opioid exposure and addiction through training and education, access to insurance and treatment at specialized providers, and recovery coaching by navigators.

The construction industry is also disproportionally impacted by opioid use disorder. In 2016, The New England Carpenters recognized that it was spending “outrageous amounts” on out-of-state network SUD providers and that their employees were most likely not receiving effective care.  The New England Carpenters Benefits Fund, which provides health benefits to its roughly 22,000 members, worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to remove all treatment limitations and prior authorization for in-network SUD care.  As a result of their efforts, 25 to 30 members have now successfully completed the Extended Services program (which includes an additional 90 days of recovery home services through the Gavin Foundation, a Quincy-based recovery home provider), and there has been a significant decrease in out-of-network, out-of-state SUD care.

The report looks at three other major employer and industry programs – Boston Medical Center, Seafood Sam’s and General Electric — that could serve as models for other employers.

“At Boston Medical Center, we are committed to raising awareness and ending the stigma associated with substance use disorder” said Kate Walsh, President and CEO of Boston Medical Center Health System. “That’s why we worked with our employees to provide and promote the necessary benefits and other services for those suffering with this disease. By providing a workplace that supports treatment and recovery, businesses can end the stigma that prevents employees from seeking help. BMC has leveraged its experience to create a free online resource library ( for other employers who are working to address substance use in their own organizations.”

Research conducted for the new report indicates that employer engagement is critical – and that employers need targeted tools and resources to structure employee benefits to better prevent and combat opioid use disorder. Employers have the unique opportunity to better harness their considerable purchasing power as payors of health benefits to develop comprehensive substance use disorder programs.

The report provides recommendations for structuring employee benefits to better prevent and combat opioid use disorder.

Recommendations include:

  • Employers should work with health plans to use de-identified personnel data to better understand the incidence of opioid use disorder, control exposure to opioids and limit barriers to treatment.
  • Employers need to be pro-active regarding opioid prescribing and the potential for opioid use disorder in the workers’ compensation population by identifying people at risk for developing OUD at the point of injury.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAPs) should direct employees and their dependents needing treatment to evidence-based providers.
  • Employers can conduct pre-employment screenings and drug tests in coordination with clearly defined organizational drug-free workforce and drug testing policies.
  • Employers should access toolkits developed by the National Safety Council, Boston Medical Center and the Society for Human Resource Management to provide better services and communicate with employees regarding opioid use disorder.
  • Employers should strive to create a recovery-friendly workplace that allows employees to take time off for appointments and support groups that reduce stigma for employees returning to work from treatment.

The report also suggests that employers can do a better job reducing the stigma associated with OUD and SUDs: Specifically, stigma impacts employers’ recognition of SUDs in the workplace, limits the efficacy of SUD prevention efforts, and contributes to lower employee utilization of EAP services and evidence-based treatment. Studies suggest that stigma is a primary factor in employees’ delaying SUD treatment until symptoms significantly impact their daily functioning.

The report recommends targeted workplace anti-stigma interventions: Workplaces free of stigma, with resources for preventing exposure to opioids, and support for treatment and long-term recovery are a common goal for employers and employees alike.

View the complete issue brief on Opioids and the Workforce.


BOSTON ––October 9, 2018 –RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE), a nonprofit created to end the opioid overdose epidemic in Massachusetts, announced today that it is awarding nearly $1 million in grants that will fund pilot programs or existing collaborations among local community organizations to enhance harm reduction services. RIZE will award $999,215 to six community-based organizations over the next two years through this grant program.

RIZE was created to address the opioid overdose epidemic through a broad continuum of programs, from prevention to long-term sustainable recovery, and investments in geographic areas where more resources are needed. RIZE is committed to achieving zero stigma and zero deaths related to opioid use disorder by investing in the best solutions to save lives, reduce harm, and end the opioid overdose epidemic in Massachusetts.

“Individuals face many challenges in seeking care for opioid use disorders, particularly the most vulnerable populations. To provide the comprehensive and compassionate care needed to treat opioid use disorder and prevent illness and death, we need a continuum of services that integrates harm reduction measures with clinical treatment for addiction. By funding local organizations that provide harm reduction services, RIZE is helping to strengthen community resources for those at greatest risk in order to reduce stigma and save lives,” said Sarah E. Wakeman, MD, RIZE Chief Medical Officer and medical director for the Massachusetts General Hospital Substance Use Disorder Initiative.

Harm reduction is an approach that focuses on reducing the negative consequences of drug use and supporting individuals in embracing any positive change in their lives and health. The treatment can include a range of services such as syringe exchange, overdose education, and naloxone distribution. Harm reduction itself should not be seen as a way to end opioid use, but rather as a survival plan that keeps people alive and safe until they decide to move into a clinical treatment phase, and then hopefully, onto full recovery.

The goals of the grant awards are to expand existing harm reduction services with novel interventions, such as fentanyl test strips or other drug-checking measures and develop immediate access to low-threshold addiction treatment through clinical partnerships. Low-threshold programs focus on access and engagement rather than strict rules that could become barriers to treatment.

The six grantees were chosen from a broad pool of applicants. The organizations are:

• AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod
• Fenway Health
• Greater Lawrence Family Health Center
• HRH413
• Kraft Center Mobile Health Initiative
• Life Connection Center

The grantees AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Fenway Health, and Kraft Center Mobile Health Initiative were selected for their evidence-based treatments that feature an innovative approach to harm reduction with an opportunity to scale and replicate the models.

While Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, HRH413, and Life Connection Center were selected for providing grassroots harm reduction services and being deeply imbedded in their communities. All three of these organizations are in under-resourced, high-need areas and serve the most marginalized populations that may not seek care in a clinical setting.

About the six organizations selected:

• AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod (ASGCC), for over 35 years has worked to save lives through prevention, education and life-sustaining services that address public health crises and build healthy communities across Cape Cod and the Islands. ASGCC provides vital services to people living with HIV, works to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and utilizes harm reduction practices to fight the deadly opioid epidemic on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

• The Kraft Center Mobile Health Initiative, launched in January 2018 by the Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, is a mobile health program designed to bridge the gap between individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) and effective treatment and increase access to care. It is a collaboration between Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), the Boston Public Health Commission’s Access, Harm Reduction, Overdose Prevention and Education (AHOPE) program, and the GE Foundation. The Kraft Center Mobile Health Initiative brings on-demand opioid addiction treatment services directly to marginalized populations in Boston. The Kraft Mobile Health Initiative currently serves four Boston neighborhoods of Dudley Square, Fenway, Downtown Crossing and the West End — where data indicates high rates of overdose and, using precise, data-driven hot spotting deploys to those areas of the city indicating emerging need. The Kraft Mobile Health Initiative serves people who inject drugs who are primarily homeless and not currently connected to care. The Kraft Center was established in 2011 by a generous gift from Robert Kraft to expand access to high quality, cost effective health care for disadvantaged individuals and families.

• Fenway Health is one of the few Federally-Qualified Health Centers with an LGBTQ focus and an unparalleled commitment to providing culturally competent care for underserved populations regardless of their ability to pay. AIDS Action (AC), the public health division of Fenway Health, offers an array of services based on a harm reduction approach, including HIV/STD testing, syringe exchange, behavioral health, treatment adherence support, case management, housing search, and legal assistance. Ninety percent (90%) of AC clients live on an average household income of less than $10,000 per year, 85% have experienced an episode of housing instability in
their lifetime, and 80% are struggling with unmet mental health needs and/or substance use issues.

• Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) has operated as a Federally-Qualified Health Center in the Merrimack Valley for nearly 40 years. GLFHC’s mission is to improve and maintain the health of individuals and families in the Merrimack Valley by providing a network of high quality, comprehensive health care services and by training health care professionals who can respond to the needs of a culturally diverse population. Providing care to nearly 60,000 patients, GLFHC operates five main clinical facilities in Lawrence and Methuen, MA, two school-based health centers at Greater Lawrence Technical School in Andover, MA and Lawrence High School; and a facility located within Lawrence General Hospital. GLFHC also provides health care for the homeless at 14 community-based sites throughout the Merrimack Valley.

• HRH413 is a grassroots harm reduction organization of current and former people who use drugs. HRH413 provides prevention, education, training and consultation in Hampshire, Hampden and Berkshire counties. Their mission is to facilitate any positive change and to reduce the stigma associated with drug use. In the past year in Hampshire county alone, HRH413 has produced almost 300 unduplicated interactions.

• Life Connection Center is a multi-service community agency located in the heart of Lowell, MA. Originally founded by a small Brazilian church, they now operate in one of the area’s toughest neighborhoods. The organization uses unique engagement methods to operate as a true bridge builder, or connection point for providers and people. Through diverse community partnerships they can narrow the gap between difficult to engage persons and relevant health care providers.

About RIZE Massachusetts:
RIZE Massachusetts is an independent nonprofit committed to achieving zero deaths and zero stigma related to opioid use disorder by investing in the best solutions and brightest minds that will save lives, reduce harm, and end the opioid overdose epidemic in Massachusetts.

June 21, 2018 –Within its first year of operation, RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE), a nonprofit created to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, announced today that it is awarding a total of more than $2.5 million in grants that will fund community-based opioid use disorder treatment best practices, support research on the impact of the opioid epidemic on the Massachusetts workforce and economy, and produce an evidenced-based report on the effectiveness of recovery coaches in the addiction recovery process.

“These grants are intended to disrupt the status quo by improving and expanding care and treatment of opioid use disorder while contributing to the evidence base and reducing stigma,” said David Torchiana, MD President and CEO of Partners HealthCare and chair of the RIZE Board of Directors. “This is just the beginning of RIZE’s work to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts and reduce its devastating impact on individuals, families, communities, and our economy.”

$1.8 million in grants were awarded to four community-based programs as part of RIZE’s inaugural grant program Saving Lives, Improving Health: Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Care following a $300,000 design grant phase. The grant program was created with the goal of establishing or expanding innovative systems of low-threshold, on-demand treatment to prevent death, support long-term treatment, and improve the health and quality of life for people experiencing opioid-use disorder.

The four grantees were chosen from a pool of six design grantees that came from more than 30 applicants.  The final grantees were selected for their collaborative approaches to treatment that facilitate coordination among medical, behavioral, and community organizations. These programs will be developed into best practices that will serve people in their communities while also having the potential to be scaled to help more people in need across Massachusetts. The four organizations are:

  • Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
  • Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
  • Community Healthlink in Worcester
  • Lynn Community Health Center

“Lynn has some of the highest rates of opioid related deaths Massachusetts, and this grant will allow us to save more lives by implementing our innovative care program that brings together social services, community leaders, and law enforcement to improve access to treatment and long-term recovery services, particularly for those suffering from homelessness” said Kiame Mahaniah, MD, CEO of the Lynn Community Health Center. “This RIZE grant will help us overcome the opioid crisis in Lynn and we look forward to sharing a successful model of treatment for our most vulnerable population with other communities in Massachusetts.”

With the grants being disbursed over the next two years, the grantees will implement their innovative and collaborative approaches around five key criteria:

  • Focusing on populations at greatest risk
  • Serving as the patients’ medical home while partnering with other community organizations to coordinate care and access to treatment
  • Treating co-occurring medical and psychiatric disorders
  • Delivering immediate access to medications for addiction treatment
  • Involving those with lived experience in the planning, implementation, and feedback

As part of RIZE’s commitment to embed learning and evaluation into the programs it funds, additional grant funding was also issued to measure the outcomes and effectiveness of the four programs to build improvements and produce evidence that will allow these programs to become sustainable and scalable solutions for possible implementation across the state.

Grants were also awarded for important research projects that will increase the understanding of the impact of the opioid epidemic on the Massachusetts economy while also contributing to the evidence base on the most effective opioid use disorder treatments.

Contributing to the evidence base to improve treatment and recovery solutions

To improve the effectiveness of opioid use disorder treatment, and contribute to the evidence base for effective treatments, RIZE awarded a grant to the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Health Law and Economics. UMass Medical School will study the role of recovery coaches aiding people in their recovery process. Recovery coaches have lived experience with opioid use disorder and recovery and provide guidance and support to people working to overcome their addiction to opioids.  The report will provide information needed to define the role of recovery coaches, their effectiveness in bringing patients fully into recovery, and the net cost of this intervention to the health care system.

The negative economic impact of opioid use disorder

According to a national study by Altarum, opioid use disorder has cost the United States $1 trillion dollars since 2001 and will add another $500 billion by 2020.  The Center for Disease Control estimates that the opioid epidemic is costing Massachusetts alone $10 billion a year in health care costs, lost productivity, and other factors.

The Massachusetts Taxpayer’s Foundation received a grant to create a report that will quantify the negative economic impact of the opioid epidemic on the Massachusetts economy.  The report will produce needed information on the cost of the epidemic to employers and employees, the health care system, and state and municipal budgets.

“Massachusetts is seeing unprecedented economic success today, however, the opioid epidemic continues to take a toll on people’s lives, businesses, and our economy,” said Eileen McAnney, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “Having this information will make the business community and other stakeholders better informed and more focused on ending the opioid epidemic, which will save lives, strengthen our workforce and the economy, and make Massachusetts more competitive.”

The impact of opioid use disorder on the workforce

One million people in this country are not working due to opioid use disorder, according to a report by the American Action Forum while the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 55 percent of people with an opioid addiction are employed.  Both factors have a negative impact on the workforce and the workplace by causing lost productivity and increasing health care costs. To create more data and information on the impact of the opioid epidemic on the Massachusetts economy, the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum (MHPF) at Brandeis University received a grant to create a report and hold a forum on the effect of the opioid epidemic on the Massachusetts workforce and employers.

“Opioid use disorder has a significant negative effect on the workforce and employers in Massachusetts in terms of lost productivity and increasing health care coverage costs,” said Michael Doonan, Ph.D., executive director of the MHPF. “By gaining a clearer understanding of how the opioid epidemic is affecting the workforce and workplace, we can begin to reduce the negative impact through more informed public policy measures, increased employer education, and more treatment solutions connected to the workplace. The MHPF is pleased to work with RIZE and draw on Brandeis University resources from the Brandeis/Harvard Center to Improve System Performance of Substance Use Disorder Treatment funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Opioid Policy Research Collaborate (OPRC), both under the direction of Professor Constance Horgan.”

The report and forum will bring forward data and insights on how the opioid epidemic’s presence in the workforce is affecting employers in terms of health care coverage costs and lost productivity and will examine solutions that will both help people receive the treatment they need while alleviating the burden on employers.

About RIZE Massachusetts

RIZE Massachusetts is an independent nonprofit committed to achieving zero deaths and zero stigma related to opioid use disorder by investing in the best solutions and brightest minds that will save lives, reduce harm, and end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts.

About the Saving Lives, Improving Health:  Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Caregrant programs:


Boston Health Care for the Homeless (BHCHP) will partner with the Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House to increase access to treatment and harm reduction services for homeless and formerly homeless individuals with opioid use disorder. BHCHP will expand access to its SPOT Program (Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment) to provide safe medical monitoring for people at imminent risk of overdose. (SPOT served 500 patients, with over 3,500 encounters in its first year, approximately 13% of whom engaged in treatment.)  BHCHP, Pine Street Inn, and St. Francis House will work together to implement new approaches to reduce harm and increase access to medication for addiction treatment for high-risk individuals in shelters and home-based environments.


Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) will implement a collaboration with the city of Brockton’s Champion Plan (a police-assisted recovery program that encourages those with substance use disorders to visit the police station, where they are paired with a recovery coach), the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, the Gandara Center, and High Point Treatment Center. Working together and with other community partners, the group will better coordinate opioid treatment and recovery services, while establishing BNHC as a medical home for patients with opioid use disorder. BNHC plans to focus on high-risk populations including those newly released from correctional facilities and homeless individuals.


Community Healthlink (CHL), which operates one of only three state-funded opioid urgent care centers in Massachusetts, provides a comprehensive array of services for substance use disorder and mental illness, and through this grant will expand its Behavioral Health and Addiction Urgent Care. Through the expansion, CHL will provide a new option for patients including immediate access to medication-assisted treatment. CHL will also implement ways that medically-complex patients will receive care at Urgent Care by collaborating with partners including the Worcester Police Department and the UMass Memorial Medical Center emergency department.


Through this grant, the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC) will improve care for homeless individuals who are among those at greatest risk for overdose. LCHC is partnering with the Lynn Police Department, Lynn Shelter Association, Bridgewell, Inc., Healthy Streets Outreach Program and other community partners to implement a care model to improve access to treatment and long-term recovery programs. The team will utilize redesigned outreach and engagement strategies to serve homeless individuals where they are and initiate immediate treatment. The program will also expand LCHC’s Homeless Medical Outreach Program to provide integrated opioid use disorder treatment, including medication assisted treatment and behavioral health services.

Donation to depleted naloxone fund will help cities and towns purchase drug and prevent deaths

BOSTON – April 17, 2018 – As part of its mission to substantially reduce opioid-related deaths, RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE) announced today that it will contribute $50,000 to the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Program created to reduce the cost to Massachusetts cities and towns of purchasing the opioid overdose reversal drug known as Narcan.  First responders across the Commonwealth now carry and use Narcan to save the lives of people in danger of dying from lethal opioid overdose. The increasing need for the drug is placing a high demand on the discount purchasing program, which has depleted the initial funding, leaving municipalities to now pay 46 to 78 percent more to buy the life-saving drug.

“Broad distribution and access to naloxone is one key strategy of the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic.  The Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Program was established to allow communities to purchase this life-saving medication at a discounted rate,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services.   “We are grateful for the generous donation from RIZE and welcome others to consider supporting this program to subsidize the cost of naloxone for cities and towns throughout the state.”

“More people are alive today because first responders are carrying Narcan, and cities and towns should not have to break their budgets to continue making this needed medicine available to treat people in danger of dying,” said RIZE Executive Director Julie Burns.  “RIZE shares Governor Baker’s commitment to preventing opioid-related deaths and ending the most serious public health epidemic of our time. We welcome this opportunity to contribute to the state’s efforts to save lives by increasing the availability of Narcan.”

The importance of naloxone in fighting the opioid crisis is evident.  Emergency medical services response to opioid-related calls and calls that require the use of medication for opioid overdose trend up each year. According to state data, non-fatal overdoses in Massachusetts soared by 200 percent from 2011 to 2015, with the total number during that period topping 65,000.

Boston – January 31, 2018 –RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE) announced today two key hires in development and programming to help carry out its ambitious agenda to fight the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic:

• Mark Walsh, Director of External Affairs and Philanthropy
• Anne Marie Boursiquot King, Senior Program Officer

“We’re thrilled to have these two highly talented and experienced professionals join the RIZE team” said Julie Burns, Executive Director. “Together, they will manage the collaboration of business and civic leaders, health industry and medical experts, and public health stakeholders assembled by RIZE to address the urgent challenge of ending the opioid crisis.”

Mark Walsh leads development in his new role. RIZE plans to raise $50 million over the next several years and invest in proven and innovative opioid treatment, prevention, and educational programs. In addition to development, Mr. Walsh will manage outreach efforts, including donor and corporate relations. He brings extensive government and nonprofit experience to the organization. He served as Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States from 2011 to 2017, overseeing visits of international dignitaries for the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State and engaging in several Department of State public/private fundraising initiatives. Prior to that, Mr. Walsh worked as the Vice President of Development for AIDS Action, as National Director of LGBT Outreach for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential Campaign, and co-founded Rafanelli Events. Mr. Walsh received his JD from Boston University and practiced law for several years before working in the public sector.

“RIZE will bring philanthropy to a level that matches the urgency of the crisis, and will support programs making lasting impacts. Mark and Anne Marie will be tremendous assets to RIZE in our mission to turn the tide on this epidemic” said Dr. David Torchiana, CEO of Partners HealthCare and Chair of the RIZE Board of Directors.

As Senior Program Officer, Anne Marie Boursiquot King oversees the RIZE portfolio of grants and programs, managing overall grant operations, and will provide direction to the board of directors and advisors on program strategy, evaluation, and governance. She comes to RIZE from her own consulting practice focused on improving nonprofit capacity and foundation and funder impact. Prior to that, Ms. Boursiquot King was Managing Director of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation where she helped launch the organization in 2008, led several statewide initiatives, funded collaborations, and granted nearly $20 million to more than 350 organizations during her tenure. Ms. Boursiquot King holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Bentley College Graduate School of Business.

An estimated four percent of people in Massachusetts have an opioid use disorder and 2,107 people died of an overdose last year.

BOSTON – December 20, 2017 –   RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE), a state-wide philanthropic initiative, chose six organizations from a broad pool of applicants to receive $50,000 design grants for its inaugural Saving Lives, Improving Health: Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Care program.

The goal of this grant program is to establish or expand systems of low threshold, on-demand treatment to prevent death, support long-term recovery, and improve health and quality of life. “These grants highlight the dedicated professionals in Brockton and all over the Commonwealth who are working on the frontlines of this crisis and who will help alleviate its devastating effects on our families and our communities,” said Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter.

The six grant recipients will collaborate with dozens of different agencies and organizations within their communities to provide a more comprehensive system of care that will serve the most vulnerable populations throughout the Commonwealth. “It’s quite clear there is enormous potential and energy in Massachusetts to address the opioid epidemic in a thoughtful, innovative, and evidence-generating manner. This first round of design grant recipients all have proven track records of taking on tough health care challenges with creativity, compassion and rigor,” said RIZE Board Chair David Torchiana, MD, President and CEO Partners HealthCare.

The six grant recipients are:

The grantees proposed promising approaches to delivering care for people at greatest risk of opioid overdose and addiction, including the use of medication assisted treatment. “We need a treatment model specifically focused on our rural geography and more resources to fight this crisis in Western MA.  This RIZE grant will provide a critical infusion of funds to the area,” said Center for Human Development President and CEO Jim Goodwin.

Executive Director Julie Burns said RIZE will evaluate the effectiveness of the design grants using shared measures and data protocols and will fund two-year implementation grants for the programs that demonstrate the greatest potential.  Implementation grants will be awarded in June 2018.

Learn more about our grant recipients.

BOSTON — June 27, 2017 – RIZE MaJulie Burns photossachusetts, a new private sector-funded initiative dedicated to addressing substance use disorders, reducing deaths from the opioid epidemic and improving the lives of individuals and families who are affected by substance use disorders, has named Julie Burns as its Executive Director. Burns was selected by the Board of RIZE, which includes representatives from the health care, business, and advocacy community.

Julie Burns starts August 14, and comes to RIZE from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts where she has been Senior Director of Administration and Communications since 2013, with responsibility for communication strategy, strategic planning, and administration. Prior to joining BCBSMA in September 2010, Ms. Burns worked for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino in various roles, including deputy chief of staff, director of the Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events, president of the Fund for Boston Neighborhoods, and executive director of Boston 2004, Inc., the not-for-profit, non-partisan corporation created to organize Boston’s preparations for the Democratic National Convention. Her other professional experience includes positions at the law firm of Holland & Knight in the government affairs practice, the Dewey Square Group, a grassroots and communications consulting firm, and the United States Senate in the office of Senator Charles S. Robb (D-VA).

She is a member of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Office of Recovery Services Substance Use Prevention advisory board. Ms. Burns also serves on the boards of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, Dress for Success Boston, and the John F. Kennedy Library New Frontier Network.

She received her bachelor of arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, has a graduate certificate in public relations from Emerson College, and has completed senior executive programs at Babson University, Bentley University, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

RIZE Massachusetts was launched March 28, 2017 at a gathering with 60 leaders from the health care, business, and advocacy community. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh each spoke at the event that was emceed by Jack Connors. The goal of RIZE is to raise $50 million to fund programs throughout Massachusetts that are informed by science, rigorous and evidence-based, and are able to be replicated.

Grants from RIZE will address the full continuum of substance use disorders from prevention to treatment to long-term sustainable recovery. The organization will focus its funding on specific areas where help is needed most.

In making the announcement of Julie Burns as Executive Director, RIZE Board Chair David Torchiana, MD, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare said he was pleased that Burns would be leading the new organization. “Julie Burns’ background in health care, government, and non-profit advocacy will be a tremendous asset to RIZE. There is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all approach to treatment for substance use disorders. Evidence increasingly tells us that addiction is a chronic disease, and most individuals with substance use disorders have periods of relapse and recovery over many years,” said Dr. Torchiana.

“We believe that everyone in our community has been touched in some way by the opioid epidemic — family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors – and we all have a responsibility to get involved in solving this problem. Too many people are afraid to reach out for help for themselves or their family members, and they keep their addiction a secret because of stigma,” said Joanne Peterson, Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope, and a RIZE Board Member.

“The private sector must make the commitment to support RIZE: to help the communities in which we work end the senseless deaths of our friends and neighbors, and within our own families, while combating the stigma of addiction,” said David Barash, MD, Chief Medical Officer, GE Foundation, and a RIZE Board Member. “There’s a business imperative, too. Substance use disorders cost employers dearly in talent and lost productivity.”

RIZE Massachusetts expects to release its first request for funding proposals in the fall.