Northern Sierra Opioid Safety Coalition

A coalition of four rural counties in Northern California made up of both prevention and harm reduction action teams 

In response to higher than average opioid-related overdose death rates and opioid prescribing rates compared to the rest of the state, four rural counties in Northern California came together to form the Northern Sierra Opioid Safety Coalition in January 2016. This coalition is part of a larger network of coalitions called the California Opioid Safety Network. The coalition is made up of a diverse group of stakeholders, including partners in public health, local hospitals, the criminal justice system, law enforcement, local nonprofits and the community at large.

The goals of the coalition are to promote safe prescribing, expand access to naloxone, and promote access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). To accomplish these goals, the coalition is made up of two teams: the Prevention Action Team and the Harm Reduction Action Team. The Prevention Action Team focuses on promoting responsible prescribing practices, expanding access to safe drug disposal, and educating youth about the risks involved with using opioids and other prescription drugs. The Harm Reduction Action Team focuses on increasing access to MOUD, access to clean syringes, and access to naloxone. Both action teams meet bi-monthly and are open to the public.

Since the coalition was formed, the region has seen a reduction in both opioid prescribing and opioid overdose-related deaths. More information about the coalition can be found in the presentation here, the news articles here and here, and the video here. More information about the California Opioid Safety Coalition, of which this regional coalition is a part of, can be found in the program model summary here

Since the coalition was formed, the region has seen a reduction in both opioid prescribing and opioid overdose-related deaths.

Continuum of Care
Harm Reduction
Type of Evidence
Response Approach
Cautious Opioid Prescribing
Medications for Opioid Use Disorder
Overdose prevention

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

This program has not been formally evaluated. However, since the coalition began in January 2016, Plumas County, one of the four counties in the coalition's region, had gone from having an opioid-related overdose death rate much higher than the state average to zero deaths in 2016. This county has also reduced opioid prescribing by 42% from 2011 to 2017, partly attributable to the coalition, and the coalition has distributed more than 700 naloxone doses in the four counties and has recorded 19 overdose reversals.

Other successes of the coalition are that all first responders now carry naloxone and the region has prescribers waivered to prescribe buprenorphine, whereas before there were none.