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$1.8 Million Awarded to Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Doctors discussing patient care

The Center for Wellness and Recovery at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS) has been awarded more than $1.8 million in state and federal funds to combat the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma. The two awards will focus on education of the public regarding opioid prescriptions, treatment of those with opioid use disorder, and on training of resident physicians to identify and treat opioid use disorder. 

Opioid misuse in Oklahoma is a serious problem that is compounded by the lack of patient education on the effects of opioids, failure to recognize the symptoms of early addiction, and a lack of available trained and certified providers of medication assisted treatment. In 2016, 813 Oklahomans died from overdoses resulting in a rate of 21.5 people per 100,000 compared to the national rate of 19.8 people per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Trust for America’s Health reports that the rate in Oklahoma could increase to 31.7 people per 100,000 by 2025, if drastic steps are not implemented.

“OSU Center for Health Sciences is committed to lead the fight against opioid use disorder for the sake of our rural communities, and for all Oklahomans. These grants will give us more resources to help educate and treat those suffering from addiction, as well as prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to these drugs that can become deadly when misused,” said Dr. Kayse M. Shrum, president of OSU-CHS, and dean, OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Epidemic Response

The CDC awarded $1.4 million to the Oklahoma Department of Health and subcontracted to OSU-CHS, will allow the Center for Wellness and Recovery to provide education on the use of prescription opioids, and education and treatment of opioid use disorders in four of Oklahoma’s hardest hit communities. OSU physicians, residents, and staff will be in each of the communities for one week to provide education, treatment, and community events. All events will take place in 2019.

SAMHSA Medication-Assisted Treatment

A $440,000 award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow the Center for Wellness and Recovery to train all residents on the treatment of opioid use disorder; the three-year project will drastically expand the number of physicians in the state who can prescribe medications used to treat opioid use disorders.

The Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 requires specialized training of physicians to dispense or prescribe approved medications for treatment of addiction in settings other than methadone clinics. By providing this training to all residents in the OSU system, medication assisted treatment for addiction can be available in primary care settings throughout the state. The lack of available and appropriate training for additional certified physicians has created a significant gap in the provision of service. This grant will allow the Center for Wellness and Recovery at OSU-CHS to prepare resident physicians to identify an opioid use disorder and engage those patients in treatment through the use of FDA-approved medication called buprenorphine. Funding is also included to offer continuing medical education to physicians throughout Oklahoma, allowing OSU-CHS to train physicians in opioid use disorder treatment at all stages of their careers.

 “With these awards, the Center for Wellness and Recovery is able to build upon OSU-CHS’s long history of commitment to medical student education and addiction medicine. We will be able to significantly boost the number of trained providers across the state, and provide needed services directly to Oklahoma communities most affected by opioid use disorders.” said Julie Croff, Ph.D., MPH, executive director of the Center for Wellness and Recovery.

By combating the opioid epidemic in Oklahoma, OSU-CHS will continue to better the welfare of area citizens, especially in rural and underserved populations. The mission of the newly established Center for Wellness and Recovery is to champion a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to addiction and pain management through research, education, and clinical care.

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