Indiana University commitment statement to National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic
Indiana University in 2017 announced a partnership with the state, IU Health, Eskenazi Health, and other nongovernmental organizations in an effort to dramatically reduce opioid overdose deaths, the incidence of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. “Responding to the Addictions Crisis,” IU’s Grand Challenge, is a $50 million investment in health professional education and training; prevention, treatment and promotion of recovery; and research, data, and metrics.
Indiana University is the state’s largest health educator, home to the largest medical school in the state and the U.S., the state’s top-ranked schools of nursing and of social work, and the state’s only schools of public health and dentistry. Through the Interprofessional Education in the Health Sciences program, students of all health sciences can receive training in recognizing and treating opioid use disorder. The School of Social Work and the School of Education offer training in Addictions Counseling, with degree programs to begin in 2019. IU also engages in robust Continuing Medical Education training around pain management, addiction, and addiction-related diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV. We have four ECHO programs which, by providing training to health providers across the state (https://echo.iu.edu), build health care provider capacity for comprehensive care of patients with SUD and related diagnoses in rural and underserved areas across Indiana.
While our partners at IU Health are working with clinicians to develop more appropriate opioid prescribing guidelines, Indiana University researchers are investigating multiple contributors to patterns in opioid prescribing. This research will enable us to advise legislators, regulators, and health systems in ongoing review and revision of prescribing guidelines. For instance, our research is analyzing the effects of state policies on actual patterns of prescribing; variations in prescribing patterns in rural and sub/urban communities; and the ways in which market factors in local healthcare shape physicians’ prescribing decisions.
Prevention, treatment, and recovery are major focus areas of efforts across Indiana University to impact the epidemic of substance use disorder. Current projects include research into ways to prevent SUD among adolescents through adapted dialectical behavioral therapy; investigation of the impact of community health workers in Emergency Departments serving as patient navigators to treatment; developing Computer Adaptive Testing to identify those with SUD earlier so as to assist them to treatment and recovery sooner; and investigation of novel therapeutic strategies for managing pain while blocking opioid reward mechanisms.
IU is also at the forefront of efforts to use and make accessible research across a range of fields to better understand the interactions of social determinants of health and OUD; the intersections of policy and regulatory frameworks with treatment, recovery, and harm reduction; and the collection and analysis of large and disparate data sets to identify emerging ‘hot spots’ and trends earlier. The Indiana Addictions Data Commons, alongside the state’s Management Performance Hub, will comprise the largest and most complete source of data related to the opioid crisis in Indiana, with plans to expand to include national data in the future.