School of Professional Studies

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


School of Professional Studies

Chief Instructor

Kerry Morris, MPA, Adjunct Professor

Second Reader

Kerry Morris

Third Reader

Clark University Writing Center


Opioid Crisis, Overdose Prevention Center, Safe Syringe Program, Harm Reduction, Stakeholder Engagement, Policy Implementation, Public Health Policy


The opioid epidemic raging across the United States is causing overdose deaths to skyrocket, prompting policy-makers across all levels of government to embrace non-traditional and sometimes controversial means of combating the worsening crisis. Overdose prevention centers (OPCs) represent one such method rapidly gaining prominence. Only emerging in North America relatively recently, these centers offer clients a supervised environment where they can use pre-obtained drugs, spaces designed to mitigate the risk of fatal overdose and increase access to other health services. This study investigates both the capacity of OPCs to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and their derivative impacts as well as the political viability of one in the City of Worcester. The paper initially reviews the relevant literature surrounding the opioid crisis and the public health and harm reduction policy approaches that encompass OPCs. Then, it analyzes the outcomes of existing OPCs and the criticisms fueling opposition. The discussion subsequently turns to an exploration of Worcester’s appropriateness for an OPC, determining that the City is a suitable candidate. Afterwards, a framework for building local approval of an OPC is applied to Worcester, which draws upon both successful and failed advocacy campaigns in other American municipalities. The study proposes a logistical framework for implementation before ultimately recommending that starting this stage is delayed until the state reforms current legislation inhibiting the establishment of an OPC in Worcester.





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