Ohio State, other Ohio universities to get $65 million to tackle addiction crisis

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The Ohio State University and its partner universities, the University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and Case Western University, will receive a total of $65.9 million in federal funding over the next four years to help address the addiction crisis.

The universities received their first installment of $13,186,682 today, Gov. Mike DeWine and U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman announced on Thursday.

Ohio is one of four states to receive federal funding through the National Institutes of Health HEALing Communities Study.

“By participating in the HEALing Communities Study, Ohio can expand its efforts to address the substance use crisis that is taking a toll on families across the state in a comprehensive, collaborative way,” said DeWine. “The study joins my RecoveryOhio initiative with several of our state’s universities to improve and evaluate our state’s community-level infrastructure with the goal of reducing overdose deaths, encouraging treatment, and supporting recovery for all Ohioans.”

This ambitious study aims to reduce overdose deaths by 40 percent over three years in selected communities by testing a set of proven prevention and treatment interventions, according to the NIH.

Ohio’s research site, led by Ohio State and its University partners across the state, will include partnerships with more than a dozen urban, suburban, and rural community partners.

Together, these entities will investigate ways to better prevent and treat addiction.

Senators Brown and Portman led the entire Ohio delegation in urging HHS to support Ohio’s application and fund this study. Ohio is currently at the epicenter of the national addiction crisis and, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had an overdose death rate of 46.3 per 100,000 individuals in 2017, one of the highest in the country.

“On average, 14 Ohioans die every day due to an opioid overdose. We must be doing everything in our power to fight this crisis on all fronts,” said Brown. “Over the next four years, this federal funding will provide a critical investment in the ground-breaking research happening at OSU and other institutions across the state to better prevent and treat addiction through traditional and creative approaches.”

“This is great news for Ohio and our efforts to address the crisis of addiction in urban, suburban and rural areas of our state,” said Portman. “This funding will be used to implement a comprehensive approach to address this epidemic and I know it will make a real difference in our state. I want to thank NIH, Ohio State and its partner universities and I look forward to seeing the results of this ground-breaking study.”

“This initiative will advance the most effective solutions to the opioid crisis and bring them to scale quickly. We are committed to doing everything we can to end this public health crisis in our state and, through our example, beyond” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “We appreciate our state leaders, including Sen. Brown, Sen. Portman and our entire congressional delegation, standing together in support of this vital initiative.”

 The multi-year study will be conducted under a cooperative agreement supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study is being carried out in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which provides support for many of the local prevention, treatment and recovery support services to be studied.

The study is part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, a bold, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid crisis. In addition to Ohio, Kentucky, New York, and Massachusetts are also receiving funding through the HEALing Communities Study.

OSU will partner with at least 15 urban, suburban, and rural communities across the state to measure the impact of integrating evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery interventions across primary care, behavioral health, justice and other settings in highly affected parts of the country.

The study will track communities as they reduce the incidence of opioid use disorder, increase the number of individuals receiving medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder, increase treatment retention beyond six months, provide recovery support services and expand the distribution of naloxone, a medication to reverse opioid overdose.

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