Leveraging our expertise to fight the opioid crisis

Leveraging our expertise to fight the opioid crisis

The well-being of the communities we serve is at the heart of Ohio State’s land-grant mission. Today, in the face of a nationwide opioid crisis, the university is marshaling resources across its full breadth to find solutions involving prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery. From policy development and review to grant funding, from training to treatment, this work, so essential to Ohio and the country, strengthens Ohio State’s position as a national flagship public research university and significantly advances our strategic vision.

Below is a preview of our expertise and campus-wide efforts.

Ohio State-led consortium aims to reduce opioid deaths by 40 percent

Through a newly awarded $65.9 million HEALing Communities federal research grant to address the opioid epidemic, The Ohio State University will lead a consortium of academic, state and community partners that aims to reduce overdose deaths by 40% over three years.

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Prescribing Practices

Comprehensive Spine Center

The Comprehensive Spine Center at the Wexner Medical Center helps patients engage in everyday functional activities while managing pain. The program prescribes as few opioids as possible by using other pain management techniques such as physical therapy, psychological support, injections, device implantation, nerve ablation and surgeries.

CPHC's Narcotic Reduction Clinic

The Wexner Medical Center is working on multiple fronts to help Ohio solve the crisis. One example is the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Center's Narcotic Reduction Clinic, where physicians determine a reasonable coordinated treatment plan to gradually reduce doses of pain medicine through a combination of medicine schedules, procedures, periodic intravenous infusions, referral to other therapies and substitution of medicines.

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)

ERAS is standardized care protocol, which began with colorectal surgery, that minimizes the use of opioids intra- and post-operatively, among a number of other techniques and methods that has resulted in decreased length of hospital stays, a reduction in patients’ risk for complications, and lower costs per procedure.

Inpatient Safe Prescribing Task Force

The goal of Wexner Medical Center's Inpatient Safe Prescribing Task Force is to implement guidelines for opioid prescribing and decrease the total amount of opioids prescribed. Task Force members developed a pain score system to replace subjective measurements that reflects a patient’s ability to move or function. By understanding the degree by which an individual can function, a recommended treatment can be provided.

Training for Data 2000 Waivers

The College of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health is working to ensure its entire clinical workforce is properly trained in the state-of-the-art care of addictions and opioid use disorder (OUD).  They have set the expectation that all of their psychiatrists and post-graduate trainees will be eligible for DATA 2000 prescribing waivers, and thus be able to prescribe buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD), upon completion of such training.


HEALing Communities Grant

Through a newly awarded $65.9 million federal research grant to address the opioid epidemic, The Ohio State University will lead a consortium of academic, state and community partners that aims to reduce overdose deaths by 40% over three years.

Opioid Steering Committee

The university’s Opioid Steering Committee was established in 2017, co-chaired by William Martin, Dean of the College of Public Health, and Roger Rennekamp, Director of Ohio State Extension. In late 2017, nearly 100 applicants submitted proposals to be funded by the committee’s leadership-funded Opioid Innovation Fund. Those proposals were narrowed to 33 teams who were invited to submit detailed grant proposals.

College of Public Health: Opioid Research Team

In June 2017, the College of Public Health initiated an Opioid Research Team to develop strategies to expedite development of fundable proposals that will address community needs and improve understanding of the crisis and health-related outcomes. The team encourages development of other college-specific teams to enhance collaboration, identify potential partners, and determine key gaps in skills or knowledge among our faculty and staff that would inform future recruitment strategies.

Opioid Innovation Fund

In 2017, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Opioid Steering Committee initiated the Opioid Innovation Fund, a grant program with more than $1 million in funding to advance our understanding of the crisis and to inspire new and existing partnerships to develop programs that alleviate the burden in Ohio.

College of Public Health: NIDA Grant

The College of Public Health’s ongoing National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded UG3/UH3 grant in southern Ohio evaluates Scioto, Pike, and Jackson counties for service gaps in prevention of complications from injection drug use. The project engages treatment centers, clinics, law enforcement, the judiciary, health departments, ADAMH boards, and people who inject drugs themselves. The goal of the project is to develop a service delivery plan to implement in the second phase of the project.

College of Public Health: Overdose Reversal Campaign

College of Public Health researchers are developing a structural and social network-based overdose reversal campaign that will significantly reduce opioid-related stigma and overdose deaths in Central Ohio.  To do this, they will utilize a mixed methods approach to design and pilot this campaign by educating and empowering people who inject drugs (PWID), their friends and family, and the broader community about naloxone use for overdose reversal.

College of Public Health: Acute Addiction Crisis Care Delivery Model

The College of Public Health is leading a multi-institutional project to map the 48 hours before and after an Acute Addiction Crisis and to build an integrated care delivery model. Partnering with local first responders and medical facilities, the project team conducts semi-structured interviews and focus groups with personnel at this intersection of service and care delivery to understand care coordination and identify opportunities to improve relapse rates and prevent future overdoses.

College of Public Health: Opioid Use and C-Sections

Researchers in the College of Public Health are studying opioid use trajectory in pregnant women before and after delivery via C-section. This project was developed in partnership with the Innovation Lab at University of Buffalo on Opioid Misuse Epidemic funded by NCATS.

College of Public Health: EMS Data Collection

The College of Public Health is leading a project that will identify census tracts with high overdose rates and low space-time accessibility rates for recovery and treatment services. This project is a collaboration with several Ohio State faculty members and multiple community partners, collecting detailed data on overdose cases from EMS agencies in Franklin County.

College of Social Work: Opioids and Medical Marijuana

Ohio State’s College of Social Work is examining the relationship between availability of medical marijuana at the local level and rates of opioid overdose deaths in California from 2012-2016. If easier access to medical marijuana as proposed in recent Ohio legislation is related to fewer opioid overdoses, marijuana may become a preferred alternative drug therapy to opioid use for the management of pain.

College of Social Work: Effects of Parental Opioid Use on Children

The College of Social Work is studying how rates of child maltreatment have changed due to changes in naloxone administration (a proxy measure of opioid overdose) from 2004 through 2015, across all 88 Ohio counties, and how those changes differ by the type of county (urban, suburban, rural, or Appalachian), financing structure, and sociodemographic factors. It has been found that past year rates of naloxone administration were related to current year rates of child maltreatment, and this time lag may represent an opportunity for innovative prevention efforts.

College of Social Work: $3 Million Grant for Children and Families

In September 2017, the College of Social Work was awarded a $3 million grant by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address substance abuse in Ohio. The grant supports regional partnership intervention activities in Ohio’s Fairfield and Pickaway counties to reduce child abuse and neglect among families who have substance use problems. Faculty and public child welfare administrators are evaluating three strategies for the Enhancing Permanency in Children and Families (EPIC) program to support families in the child welfare system in order to get parents into treatment and increase well-being for children.

Department of Family Medicine: Patient Education Materials

The College of Medicine's Department of Family Medicine conducted research related to patient education materials, including Development and Validation of Educational Materials to Foster Safe Use of Opioid Medication to assess patient comprehension of the OxyContin Medication Guide (OxyMG) and Patient Medicine Information Sheet—Long Acting Opioids (PMIS); Initial Development of the Opioid Health Activities Tool (OHAT): A Pilot Study to develop a valid and reliable Opioid Health Activities Tool (OHAT) to simulate tasks routinely required of patients prescribed opioids; Development and Validation of the Patient Opioid Education Measure (POEM) to develop a content-valid, understandable, readable, and reliable Patient Opioid Education Measure (POEM); and Patients' Experiences Using Pain Medication to assess the validity and reliability of the Patient Opioid Knowledge and Activities Questionnaire (POKAQ).

College of Education and Human Ecology: Impact of a College Degree

College of Education and Human Ecology researchers say that one potential outcome of educational disparity could be fatal. Ohioans who have only high school degrees have opioid overdose rates 14 times higher than those with four-year college degrees.

College of Social Work: Neighborhood Conditions

The College of Social Work is studying what neighborhood conditions are related to higher rates of use of naloxone to reverse overdoses across the state of Ohio during the period 2003 – 2015. These findings will be used to develop and implement intervention programs in the places at highest risk for opioid and heroin deaths.

Department of Psychology

Gary Wenk, professor in the Department of Psychology with an additional appointment in the College of Medicine, serves on the Governor of the State of Ohio's marijuana task force and is one many psychology faculty members who conduct research on drugs.


Opioid Patient Education Program

The Opioid Patient Education Program (OPEP), partnership between the College of Pharmacy and Kroger Pharmacy, is designed to educate patients receiving new opioid pain medication therapies on the safe use, storage and disposal of these medications and allows pharmacists to have a follow-up call with the patient 14 days later. It includes written materials and pharmacist counseling sessions, and is being piloted in southeast Ohio at Kroger pharmacies in Chillicothe, Lancaster, Portsmouth, Waverly and Wheelersburg. To date, this program has had over 700 patient encounters.

Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery

The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery is a partnership between the College of Social Work, the College of Pharmacy, the Office of Student Life and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The Center provides colleges and universities the tools and resources to launch alcohol and drug misuse prevention and recovery programs on their campuses. Its website offers resources for college students and their families. The Center has created a free iTunes U course, “Generation Rx: The Science Behind Prescription Drug Abuse” to help educate the community.

Ohio Sobriety, Treatment and Reducing Trauma (Ohio START)

Announced in March 2017, Ohio START is an intervention program that focuses on reunification of children removed from the home due to parental addiction. START provides specialized victim services, such as intensive trauma counseling, to children who have suffered victimization due to parental drug use. The pilot program, to be initiated in 18 Ohio counties, will also provide drug treatment for parents of children referred to the program.  It is funded through a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The College of Social Work will evaluate Ohio START to determine which elements are most successful in helping parents regain sobriety, maintain treatment, and reduce future recurrence of child abuse or neglect.

Generation Rx

The mission of Generation Rx is to educate people of all ages about safe medication-taking practices and the potential dangers of misusing prescription medications. Since 2009, Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy and Cardinal Health have partnered to provide open source educational materials that anyone can use to help prevent the misuse of prescription drugs.  The Generation Rx Collaborative was named the 2017 recipient of the Student Group Award for Excellence in Community Service Programming by The Ohio State University Office of Engagement.  As of January 2017 Generation Rx has reached over 37 million people in all fifty states, and more than 100 of the 138 Colleges of Pharmacy engage their students in Generation Rx. The College is currently creating a Generation Rx patch with Girl Scouts of America.

Ohio's Opioid Abuse, Prevention and Treatment Technology Initiative

This partnership between the College of Pharmacy, the Ohio Attorney General's Center for Forensic Science Research, Bowling Green State University, and The Ohio Pharmacists Association has submitted a letter of intent to the State of Ohio Third Frontier Grant Program to develop an educational program and patient tracking technology for opioid addiction.  This effort would include using Smart Medicine and digitals tools to monitor, educate and prevent opioid abuse; developing an app that monitors vital signs consistent with potential overdose such as respiratory and heart rate, temperature and blood pressure; and developing a consistent message delivered through a vast array of educational methods such as cell phone apps, computer assisted learning programs, certificate programs, and media outlets.

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Prescribing Protocols

The College of Public Health has partnered with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) to introduce and test new protocols for ensuring that treating physicians routinely perform an opioid-use assessment for injured workers prescribed opioid medications. This includes establishing an intervention program that requires the primary prescribing physician to develop a written medication treatment plan for workers’ compensation patients taking opioids and perform a reassessment of opioid use patterns during the first 30 days following a claim, with continued monitoring past that point.  The intervention will also have an educational component (e.g., an automated computer callback, or care coordinator) to encourage re-engagement with the injured worker after a prescribed period. This novel approach, specifying that community providers must development a written opioid treatment and monitoring plan to be approved by the OBWC, is the first of its kind in the nation.

Empowering Communities Grant

The College' of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health has partnered with the City of Columbus and Franklin County Addiction, Drug, and Mental Health Board (ADAMH) to seek funding under the Empowering Communities grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This important initiative is focused on changing the culture of care such that OUD (opiate use disorder) is proactively managed at the time of presentation.  Submitted to HHS for federal funding, the proposal would develop and test the initiation of MAT in our Emergency Departments and inpatient medical surgical wards when appropriate.

College of Public Health: On-Campus Partnerships

The College of Public Health will be collaborating with Student Health Services to educate students and faculty about the use of Naloxone (Narcan) and how it can assist people suffering from opiate- related substance use disorder. On April 4, 2018, during National Public Health Week, students will providing information at different locations throughout the university campus. Additionally, the College of Public Health will partner with the Public Health Student Leadership Council and the Buckeyes for Public Health to host the viewing of a documentary on opiates followed by a panel discussion during National Public Health Week in April 2018. 

Colleges & Universities Collaborative

The office of the Columbus City Attorney and the College of Public Health are partnering to bring together Central Ohio colleges and universities so they can work together to address the opioid epidemic. Other partners include the Prevention Action Alliance’s Ohio College Initiative and Ohio State’s Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Collegiate Recovery Community.


PROSPER Ohio is a collaboration between Ohio State's College of Education and Human Ecology, College of Public Health, OSU Extension, Central State University Extension and communities throughout Ohio. The project aims to reduce substance abuse in youth and adolescents, strengthen families and community connections to increase resilience and protective factors, and build community capacity to address mental health issues. Funding comes from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. PROSPER (Promoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) is a scientifically-proven, NIH-supported delivery system that facilitates delivery of evidence-based education and prevention programs that 1) reduce risky youth behaviors, 2) enhance positive youth development, and 3) strengthen families and communities. The target population is sixth and seventh graders and their families.


College of Dentistry

Information about the role of over-prescribing opioids in the current epidemic, and guidance pertaining to appropriate pain assessment and management, is embedded in five courses that College of Dentistry students complete in the first two years of dental school. The 3rd and 4th years of clinical experience emphasizes responsible management of acute post-operative pain through initial conservative use of non-opioid analgesia (ibuprofen & acetaminophen).  Faculty members are closely involved with patients who require controlled substances for pain.  A course of opioids is generally limited to three or four days. Opioids are not used for pain management in the Pediatric Dentistry Residency.

College of Medicine

The College of Medicine’s curriculum teaches the physiologic mechanisms of pain, the pharmacologic management of pain and the evaluation and management of patients with pain complaints, with a focus on prescribing guidelines. In addition, all medical students are required to complete the Ohio State Medical Association’s (OSMA) SmartRx modules on opioids. Resident physicians have regularly scheduled conferences on the proper prescribing of opioids.  All residents and fellows are required to complete the education module “Safe Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain” (AMA). For continuing education credit, the College offers two on-demand modules available to all physicians: “The Pharmacologic Management of Pain” and “Drugs of Abuse”.

College of Medicine and the All Ohio Medical Schools Consortium

The All Ohio Medical Schools Consortium created a common set of competencies required of all medical school graduates around prevention of addiction, management of pain and treatment of substance use disorders. A lecture series on pain management was developed for residents and fellows which included the following topics: Current Concepts in Pain Management; Regional Pain Management; Palliative Care and Palliative Pain Management; Integrative Medicine and Non-Medication Pain Management; Addiction; and Ohio Laws around opioid prescribing. First-year medical students participate in an Opioid forum in association with the Ohio State Medical Association and the Ohio Physician Health Program with the next one scheduled for April 17, 2018.  This forum involves a review of pain pathways and basic physiology of pain, discussion of basic opioid pharmacology, and the psychiatry of addiction.  This is followed by presentations by several physician providers. The first physician is a pain management specialist who relates these topics to a patient needing treatment for pain.  A second physician discusses the rules and regulations now in place regarding the prescribing of opioids and what effect not following the regulations may have on the students’ careers.  Finally, a physician who has self-prescribed opioids discusses the effect it has had on his career.

College of Nursing

College of Nursing students are learning how to identify addiction early, how to support behavior change, and how to approach pain management in a manner that is effective, safe, and evidence-based at all program levels.  Core courses and specialty-specific clinical courses include lectures, patient cases, and clinical challenges that require students to develop the knowledge and skills required to assess, diagnose, and manage addiction, including the provision of appropriate referrals and interdisciplinary support.  The College of Nursing is a partner with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in their efforts to combat the opioid crisis.  All graduate advanced practice nursing (APN) students complete a course in Advanced Pharmacology, which includes content regarding acute and chronic pain management, opioid prescribing guidelines, and the pharmacodynamics of opioids.  These students are also required to demonstrate safe pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic management of pain in their clinical courses, and are evaluated throughout the advanced nursing practice courses in regard to Schedule II medication prescribing.  All of the APN specialty courses in Family Practice, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Adult/Geriatric, Psychiatric Mental Health and Acute Care integrate addiction and pain management content. Nursing faculty recently made available 45 hours of pharmacologic education, approved by the Board of Nursing for CE credit.  The lectures address Ohio law and rule related to opiate prescribing, and include lectures addressing acute and chronic pain management, and palliative care.

College of Optometry

Within the field of optometry the use of opioid medications is rare in the course of delivering primary eye care. In Ohio, licensed optometrists with a DEA number have limited prescriptive authority to prescribe select opioid medications for a four-day course to manage acute pain associated with ocular injury (surgical or trauma). The College of Optometry’s clinical ocular pharmacology curriculum covers the physiologic mechanisms of pain and the pharmacologic management of pain outlining the risks and benefits of opioids with emphasis on alternative forms of pain management.  When opioid prescriptions are necessary, detailed prescribing guidelines are provided following Ohio’s guideline for the management of acute pain outside of emergency departments. All opioid prescriptions are preceded by referencing the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) and detailed patient education.

College of Pharmacy

The College of Pharmacy offers the following courses: Drug Use in American Culture  |  Pharmacology of Neurologic and Psychiatric Disorders  |  Chemical Dependency and the Healthcare Professional  |  Generation Rx: America’s Drug-Taking Culture  |  Pharmacology of Opioids and Substance Use Disorders in Integrated Pharmacotherapy  |  Addicting Drugs focuses on effects of the drugs, targets for drugs in the brain, historical and current patterns of use, and legal issues and has a major section on opioids  |  Current Neurobiology Addiction Literature,  in which a recently published scientific paper describing some aspect of brain structure/biochemistry relating to use of addicting drugs is discussed each week  |  Transitions has 3 lecture hours dedicated to the opioid problem and solutions; also recovery ally training  |  Neurobiology of Addiction is an elective course for pharmacy and graduate students which focuses on the changes in brain microstructure induced by addicting drugs and how these changes alter behavior. This course also has a section on opioid drugs. Last semester, a short discussion on the new prescribing guidelines for opioids and a section on chronic pain was added.

Department of Sociology

Michael Vuolo, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, teaches a "Drugs and Society" course and is assisting with a visit to campus by Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic during Autumn Semester, 2018.

College of Social Work

The College of Social Work’s eight courses on the assessment, prevention and treatment of addiction include content related to opiates.  An interdisciplinary minor in substance abuse (primarily online)  is offered on both the Columbus and regional campuses.  The minor is a collaboration among the Colleges of Social Work, Pharmacy, and Public Health, the departments of Sociology and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Human Development and Family Science program.  Approximately 244 students from across campus enrolled last year.  Completion of the minor prepares students to test for state certification as substance abuse treatment providers.  The Integrated and Culturally Relevant Care Field Education Program provides MSW students advanced field training in working with addiction at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), including collaboration with providers who prescribe Vivitrol and Suboxone.

Colleges of Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy and Social Work

The faculty of the colleges of Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy are collaborating in developing modules addressing the key points of the Surgeon General’s Report on Opiate Addiction. A new training website will deliver 14 instructional modules that, singularly or in combination, emphasize topics germane to opiate use disorder prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, including the latest clinical guidelines for pain management and opioid prescribing, how to identify and work with patients with opioid addiction, manage the disease in the context of other health conditions, refer patients to appropriate community services, identify patients at high risk of overdose, and emergency treatment of patients who have overdosed. It is anticipated that the modules will be available starting in June 2018.  This initiative is a component of the College of Medicine’s HRSA (PCTE) grant. 

Smart Rx

Jointly developed with the Ohio State Medical Association, Mindset Digital and other hospitals/health systems in Ohio, the Smart Rx online education program provides prescribers with access to up-to-date information on how Ohio is addressing the drug epidemic, emerging best practices, pain management protocols, addiction treatment methods, and current laws and compliance directives.

Project: Opiate Action Plan and Residential Recovery Housing

Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz involves first-year medical students in the College of Medicine in the creation of a community resource list of residential recovery homes. This involves locating and connecting with the existing residential recovery homes in Franklin County. The aim is to bring all owners together for a focus group to learn about their needs, share how they can become certified, and to ask why they are not currently certified with the Ohio Recovery Housing Association.

The Health Sciences Colleges

In 2017-18 academic year, second-year students from all seven of the health sciences colleges will go through Inter-professional Education Programming (IPEP) focused on the opioid epidemic with Dr. Mark Hurst, MD, Medical Director at the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, as the keynote speaker. The seven health sciences colleges include Pharmacy, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Optometry, Public Health, and Veterinary Medicine.

Pain Medicine Fellowship

The Ohio State University Pain Medicine Fellowship is a 12-month program (July 1 - June 30) fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Two positions are offered each year, providing training in acute and chronic non-malignant pain and acute and chronic cancer pain. In addition, the fellows participate in four month-long rotations with neurology, psychiatry, palliative medicine and either physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) or anesthesiology. The fellowship is focused at the Ohio State Comprehensive Spine Center.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship

The Ohio State University Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship is a well-established ACGME-accredited program devoted to training future physicians and leaders in the care of patients with serious illness. The one-year program accepts four physicians as fellows to prepare them for careers in ambulatory, hospice or hospital-based settings with diverse patient populations.  Most educational sessions (workshops, lectures, small group discussions) are shared with the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellows at OhioHealth and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide a collaborative learning environment that draws on Hospice and Palliative Medicine experts in the Greater Columbus area.

Addiction Medicine Fellowship

The Ohio State University Addiction Medicine Fellowship is a one-year program which is open to graduates of any ACGME-approved residency program. Prospective fellows could come from psychiatry, internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, emergency medicine, or any other specialty. There are two fellowship spots available per year. Fellows will work with addiction medicine providers to gain subspecialty training in working with patients with substance use disorders. They will work in inpatient, outpatient, and consultative settings. They will have a longitudinal clinic and develop expertise in providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to patients. This fellowship will be effective July 2018.

Colleges of Social Work and Pharmacy

The colleges of Social Work and Pharmacy are developing a best practice family support opioid overdose tool kit in a two-semester independent study with students. This will be completed in April 2018.

Moritz College of Law: Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

The Moritz College of Law recently announced the creation of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center to support and promote interdisciplinary research, scholarship, education, community outreach and public engagement on the societal impacts surrounding legal reforms that prohibit or regulate the use and distribution of traditionally illicit drugs.

C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences' C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy focuses on increasing access to treatment and improving economic opportunity.

Department of Design

Three students in a research-intensive course taught by Susan Melsop, associate professor in the Department of Design, developed innovative design proposals for an adaptive reuse in the local community of Franklinton. Each of the design projects illustrates how our physical environments can be designed and developed to be places for health and wellbeing, and specifically in these cases, could contribute to alleviating the opioid crisis.

Treatment and Outreach Programs

STEPP Clinic

The STEPP Clinic (Substance Abuse Treatment, Education and Prenatal Prevention) within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology provides care for pregnant women who are currently in treatment for addiction to opioids.  The program operates in the University Hospital OB/GYN Clinic in McCampbell Hall and provides medication assisted treatment (MAT), prenatal care, and group counseling for pregnant women with drug addiction disorders.

Talbot Hall Addiction Treatment Program

Since 1974, Talbot Hall has provided high quality, comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction recovery services in central Ohio. In meeting the specific needs of individuals with opioid addiction, the Talbot Hall Addiction Treatment Program at University Hospital East focuses specifically on improved access to partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs. While detoxification from opioids is moving to the outpatient environment, when needed, Talbot Hall also has 25 beds for patients whose therapy requires a hospital stay.

Operation Street Smart

The College of Social Work partnered with the Franklin County Sheriff’s office to bring “Operation Street Smart” to over 150 participants.  The goal of Street Smart is to teach social workers trends in narcotic use in the community. 

Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation

Ohio State Extension is implementing a Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation (CAPE) grant to conduct Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for Extension staff and community members. MHFA focuses on identification of early warning signs of mental illness and making referrals for assistance.

Project Stay Strong

Project Stay Strong is an opioid prevention project designed by the College of Nursing.  Six online educational modules are being developed to educate and inform the following target populations: health care professionals, athletes, adolescents, parents, college students, and individuals with addiction.  The project is focused on opioid prevention with content including education on the risks and trajectory of opioid use; evidence-based coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety; and alternative, non-pharmacological strategies for pain control.

Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery

The Colleges of Social Work and Pharmacy, and the Office of Student Life are partners in the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HEC). The Center supports campuses nationwide to address collegiate substance misuse and support students in recovery. HEC has trained 1500 campus professionals on prescription drug misuse, promoting the use of naloxone on campus; and a web-based screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) tool that campuses deploy as a means for early intervention with students. 17,145 students have completed alcohol screening, 2,782 prescription screening, and 1,276 marijuana screening.  In January, HECAOD launched the Rx Learning Collaborative, a six-part web series designed to train campus professionals in the issue of collegiate prescription drug misuse and evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies.

Piketon Public Health Specialist

Ohio State Extension and the Center for Public Health Practice at Ohio State are funding a public health specialist position, which will focus significant attention to opioid addiction recovery, prevention and public education. This specialist will be based in Piketon and work with several of the surrounding counties.

Project DAWN

The Ohio State East Hospital Emergency Department is one of four Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) sites in Franklin County which provides training and naloxone kits at no cost to overdose survivors seen in the emergency department. This program has been piloted and operational in the Ohio State East Emergency Department since 2016, and will be expanded to the emergency department at University Hospital.

Student Life Collegiate Recovery Community

The Office of Student Life's Collegiate Recovery Community supports students in or seeking recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction, allowing students to have an authentic college experience while maintaining their recovery.

President's Prize

The President’s Prize is the highest university recognition bestowed on exceptional students committed to transforming our world. Alina Sharafutdinova, one of two recipients in 2018, will work to combat the opioid epidemic through drug education, overdose prevention and addiction treatment in high-risk Columbus neighborhoods.


Naloxone is available at the Student Life Student Health Services pharmacy. Naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent overdose by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose, allowing the patient to resume breathing.

Suboxone Maintenance and Recovery Treatment (SMART)

The Suboxone Maintenance and Recovery Treatment (SMART) program is a partnership between the Office of Student Life’s Counseling and Consultation Service, Collegiate Recovery Community and Student Health Services. The program is designed to assist students with a history of opioid use disorder in maintaining their recovery by offering continued maintenance treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone, psychosocial support programs and recovery support.

Our Ohio Renewal

Students from the College of Arts and Sciences are working directly with Ohio native J.D. Vance's non-profit Our Ohio Renewal, dedicated to promoting the ideas and addressing the problems identified in Vance’s New York Times’ #1 Bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy.

Psychological Services Center

The Department of Psychology's Psychological Services Center provides free evidence-based psychological treatments to Central Ohio adults for a range of issues, including substance abuse. Therapists are advanced students in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program supervised by licensed psychologists in the department.

Symposia and Events

Campus Conversation on the Opioid Crisis

January 30, 2017 – The Ohio State community came together to discuss a plan for coordinating the university's efforts to address opiate addiction across Ohio, including the campus community. Keynote speakers provided information about aspects of the opioid epidemic; small-groups discussed prevention, intervention, and recovery issues. Another goal was developing an inventory of how participants are involved in addressing the opioid issue.

Franklin County Opiate Summit

March 22, 2017 – Many counties in southern Ohio are especially challenged by the opioid crisis. Many Extension educators are involved in local coalitions and task forces that are actively providing drug use and abuse education, resources for those in addiction recovery, and evolving ways to treat family issues caused by addiction.  One of the purposes of The Franklin County Opiate Summit was to announce Ohio Start, a program to help children deal with the trauma of having an addicted parent.

The Opioid Crisis in Ohio: Seeking New Solutions from the Community

April 6, 2017 – As part of Public Health Week, the College of Public Health co-hosted a forum of health, education and government leaders at the Ohio Statehouse.  Public health, addiction and mental health experts from state agencies and health departments across the stagte discussed how they are battling the opioid crisis, both on the front lines and through broader policy and services

Opioid Addiction and Your Brain

April 27, 2017 – Attended by researchers, clinicians, educators, entrepreneurs, authors, media, and community and corporate leaders, this special symposium, a part of the Brain Health and Performance Summit, looked at the socioeconomic underpinnings of addiction, the public health impact, the scope of the problem, the challenges in managing opioid addiction, and innovations in addressing pain management. The 2018 Brain Health and Performance Summit is April 4-6.

Opiates, Addiction and Action: Building Recovery for Ohio

September 22, 2017 – The College of Social Work held a conference focused on the social justice issues of the opioid epidemic, best practices in prevention and treatment, and community strategies to help reduce overdose deaths. The conference attracted Ohio State faculty, staff, students, the practice community, and the general community at-large.  The conference attracted an audience of over 300 individuals, with another 300 on the waiting list.

Caring for our Communities: Addressing Drug Misuses in Today’s World

October 6, 2017 – The College of Pharmacy hosted a training symposium for pharmacists and Extension Educators at COSI. Sessions included a keynote on the opioid crisis, and programming included a celebration of the impact of Generation Rx and the use of its toolkits, the partnership on the Opioid Education Program, and highlighting community partnerships in Marion County between OhioHealth, the court system and a peer recovery program.

Provost's Discovery Themes Lecturer Program: J.D. Vance

November 7, 2017 – The Discovery Themes Provost's Lecturer Program welcomed Ohio State alumnus and best-selling author J.D. Vance to campus for an open lecture on the problems facing the state of Ohio, including opioid addiction,

Ohio State Marion Community Opioid Summit

December 2017 – In collaboration with the College of Public Health, Ohio State Marion organized a two-hour summit in December of approximately 40 individuals from the Marion community representing law enforcement, the courts, counselors, treatment facilities, public health, health providers, employers, social service agencies and more. This was the first such gathering of these disparate functions in the area, and additional meetings are scheduled to continue addressing the drug problems affecting not just Marion, but all of Ohio and the nation.

Buckeye Summit: Creating Healthy Communities

April 13, 2018 - The 2018 Buckeye Summit is meant to bring the broader Ohio State community together to address community health, including a significant focus on "Understanding and Preventing Addicition." The summit will address such topics as working within a community to understand the root causes of addiction and how to address the problem, and promising new ways big data could help better allocate treatment resources across communities, leading to faster, better care for patients. Attendees will meet new public health specialists who work across the state to focus on opioid addiction, recovery, prevention and public education, and explore how psychological counseling and medicine can work together to treat drug and alcohol addiction.

The Opioid Crisis: Whose problem is it anyway?

April 19, 2018 – The author of Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked and Why It’s So Hard to Stop will be part of a special Schwartz Center Rounds, 160 Meiling Hall, from noon to 1 p.m. Anna Lembke, MD, will join Eileen Ryan, DO, interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, and Mark Hurst, MD, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services during a panel discussion moderated by Kenneth Yeager, director of the STAR program.

Ohio State MedNet21 Webinar

May 18, 2018 – Casia Horseman, MD, will present on Treatment of Opioid Dependency as part of a series of Continuing Medical Education (CME) webcasts provided weekly by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Center for Continuing Medical Education.  Beginning in September 2016, webcasts also have Maintenance of Certification (MOC) points associated with them. Webcasts can also be accessed as podcasts, and are available to the general public for viewing.

University Hospital East/Talbot Hall Addiction Studies Institute

July 25-27, 2018 – Founded in 1990, the Addiction Studies Institute (ASI) is an annual conference, considered the largest Midwest conference of its kind. This conference provides an array of dynamic educational sessions for the chemical dependency counselor, social worker, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, prevention specialist, nurse, psychologist, physician, other healthcare specialists, criminal justice professional, clergy and educato. This conference is designed to offer a variety of choices for the more than 1,000 attendees to select from and in return secure continuing education credit. Academic credit is also made available for graduate and undergraduate degree students. Typically 10 all-day sessions are offered on the first day along with 2 keynote sessions and over 50 breakout sessions the following two days. This provides a variety of topics for education and attendee credit which usually totals 20.25 hours. In addition to bringing the latest research, technology, and findings to the participants as most conferences do, the ASI focuses on imparting practical skills, knowledge, and ideas that can be immediately applied to their patients, agencies or organizations.

Opioids Conference

The College of Education and Human Ecology, in partnership with the Colleges of Pharmacy, Social Work, and Public Health, is planning a conference for Ohio educators concerning the opioid crisis. The purpose of the Opioids Conference is to help teachers, principals, superintendents, administrators, school nurses, guidance counselors, coaches, and school social workers know more about the opioid crisis and what they can do to support children, families, and communities. Educators can attend the conference in person, stream the conference live, or watch the taped conference at a later date. Participation in the conference will allow educators, in consultation with their local districts, to apply for up to one professional development credit.

From Punishment to Public Health: Embracing Evidence-Based Solutions to End the Overdose Crisis

The Ohio State Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and College of Public Health are partnering with the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU Ohio, Harm Reduction Coalition and Harm Reduction Ohio to organize a conference that will explore the impact of criminal justice laws and policies in compounding drug use harms, including overdose deaths, and offer an alternative framework for addressing problematic drug use and drug-related fatalities rooted in evidence, compassion, and the principles of harm reduction. The conference takes place Sept. 27-28, 2018, in Saxbe Auditorium, Drinko Hall, Moritz College of Law. For additional information and to register, please visit the conference website.

Symposium on Children: Building Resilient Communities

The Crane Center For Early Childhood Research and Policy hosts the 2018 Symposium on Children: Improving Children's Lives by Building Resilient Communities on Thursday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Longaberger Alumni House. The event brings together researchers, practitioners and policy makers to discuss issues related to children's well-being. Keynotes are conflict and race relations, advocating for international childhood reforms and the importance of trauma-informed community development. A panel speaks to resilience in the midst of Ohio’s opioid crisis.

In the News

$3.9 million grant to boost Franklin County's opiate prevention, response efforts

For the next three years, Franklin County Public Health will receive nearly $3.9 million a year from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to gather data on opiate overdoses that is more timely and more comprehensive.
In the first year of the grant, Franklin County Public Health will split $2.3 million with 14 partner organizations, including The Ohio State University's College of Public Health and Wexner Medical Center.

Columbus Dispatch: $3.9 million grant to boost Franklin County's opiate prevention, response efforts

Ohio State tackles opioid crisis from multiple angles

Fighting the opioid epidemic in Ohio, which has the second-highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the United States, is considered by many health practitioners at The Ohio State University not just a professional responsibility, but also a moral imperative.

Ohio State tackles opioid crisis from multiple angles

Ohio State faculty highlight research on opioid epidemic

Three faculty members presented at “Ohio’s Opiate Epidemic: Impacts and Innovations,” a recent event held at the Blackwell Center. The researchers talked about their different approaches to helping battle the opioid epidemic in Ohio and across the nation.

Read the article

Department of Sociology

A new study suggests that when drug users go online for the first time to buy opioids, they aren’t looking for the widest selection or the best prices for their illicit purchases.

On the darknet, drug buyers aren’t looking for bargains

College of Public Health

Learn more about efforts taking place in the College of Public Health.

What the College of Public Health is Doing to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Ohio State Insights

Ken Hale, clinical professor of pharmacy at Ohio State, has been a vanguard in educating people about this crisis and offers his perspective on the crisis in the piece from Ohio State Insights.

Opioids: America’s public health emergency

Columbus Dispatch

Several Ohio State efforts have been detailed in the pages of the Columbus Dispatch.

Could this back pain device end the need for opioids Cardinal Health announced program to address opioid crisis


The College of Social Work is help evaluate the Ohio Attorney General's Ohio Sobriety, Treatment and Reducing Trauma (START) pilot program's success in reuniting families disrupted by parental addiction.

Ohio State News Release ABC6/FOX28 News Clip 10TV WBNS News Clip