The report, which was distributed last week, was a model for multidisciplinary needs-assessment projects on opioid addiction and recovery, said Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Martins was a faculty adviser on the project, along with Dr. Lisette Nieves, a New York University professor.
“Even within the same institution, we don’t always talk to each other. We are too busy with our own research projects,” Dr. Martins said. “I think that projects like this that bring together people with different expertise should be done more often. For sure. Not only at the city level but at the state level.”
Though the effort fell outside her mandate to prosecute drug crimes, Ms. Brennan said treatment, law enforcement and medical research all have a hand in curbing the epidemic.
“What you’ll find working in this area is that people have a lot of biases. We come with our baggage through the years, we develop a certain perspective, and there it is,” she said. “This epidemic is just different from everything else we’ve dealt with, so the approaches have to be different.”
“And it’s a different time. If we’ve learned one thing,” it is that “problems of addiction are not going to solved with making lots of arrests.”
The district attorney, Michael McMahon — who describes himself as a lifelong Staten Island resident and whose office investigates drug overdoses as criminal cases — shared overdose data with the researchers. Dr. Nieves called that precisely the sort of collaboration “across diverse stakeholders” that she said can yield solutions.
“I lived through the crack epidemic and I never saw this kind of coordination. And this is something that we can learn from,” Dr. Nieves said. ”You can either act like it’s not happening or you can make the information public. And they want to be leaders in this and I was very inspired by it.”
The benefits to collaborating, Mr. McMahon said, are simple: substance abuse problems bleed into other issues, including domestic violence, larceny and violent…