OSU-CHS receives DOJ award to combat opioid use in at-risk youth
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
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Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences will use funding from a recent Department of Justice award to develop coordinated prevention and intervention strategies for youth and their families who have been impacted by opioids and other substances.
The $707,310 grant from the DOJ is to help OSU-CHS implement the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Opioid Affected Youth Initiative program.
OSU-CHS researchers will collaborate with other OSU mental health professionals to develop evidence-based prevention programming for youth and families directly impacted by opioid and other substance use disorders (SUD/OUD) to reduce the morbidity and mortality for Oklahoma’s high-risk youth.
“We know the resources for health, mental health and wellness are scarce in the six counties that surround Tulsa County, especially for our underserved youth,” said Julie Croff, Ph.D., MPH, FAAHB, principal investigator.
“Our hardworking law enforcement, court services and youth organizations are stretched to capacity. Our goal with this grant is to develop programs for our underserved youth to protect the most vulnerable in our communities."
The target population will be youth at risk for opioid use disorder or substance use disorder who are served by Tulsa area law enforcement, courts and youth-serving organizations. Those agencies include Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau, Tulsa County District Court, Tulsa County Family Drug Court and Youth Services of Tulsa. The agencies all serve the Tulsa Metropolitan Service Area (MSA) and youth from all seven Tulsa MSA counties.
"Our goal with this grant is to develop programs for our underserved youth to protect the most vulnerable in our communities."
Six of those counties are rural and underserved. There are large pockets of underserved populations across Tulsa with nearly 15% uninsured and a poverty rate of 15.5% according to the U.S. Census in 2019. Due to the lack of services and resources for health, mental health and substance use and opioid use disorder in the six rural counties, Tulsa services are often the only ones available, creating accessibility issues, among others.
The objectives of the program are to reduce youth substance use, increase youth participation in evidence-based substance use and opioid use disorder prevention programming, and improve youth and family engagement in positive relationship skill building.
“We want to increase the protective factors for our high-risk youth, develop skills to enable youth to refuse to engage with their peers in drug and alcohol use, and increase communication and bonding among family members. We are actively engaged in implementation science to ensure that evidence-based practices flourish in our community and across the state,” Croff said.