School of Nursing joins fight against opioid crisis

These maps illustrate the number of deaths from drug overdose per 100,000 people, from 1999-2014.

These maps illustrate the number of deaths from drug overdose per 100,000 people, from 1999-2014.

UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies has recently been awarded an $8 million grant to combat the opioid crisis.

This comes as part of a new impetus in the country to fight the growing medical issue of opioid abuse.

“The work in this area influences the best practices we teach our students, who are health care providers,” said Dr. Ann Cary, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “We look forward to advancing the best care for a population of people who are most often marginalized by society.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 116 Americans die from opioid overdose on a daily basis. Last October, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a health emergency.

Regarding how they obtained the grant, Laurie Krom, program director in behavioral health, mentioned UMKC’s twenty-year relationship with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“It is because of [prior] distinguished work that UMKC has the foundation to support this new technical assistance grant and to help states address the opioid epidemic,” Krom said.

While the opioid crisis has just recently started to generate more interest from the general population, the issue has been developing for some time. Holly Hagle, assistant research professor, described the “long trajectory” of the opioid crisis as a “perfect storm of factors, increase in use and decrease in resources.”

The nineties saw pharmaceutical companies claiming opioid-based pain medication wouldn’t result in addiction. As a result, healthcare providers began prescribing more of it.

UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences is located on the Hospital Hill campus. (Source: University of Missouri-Kansas City)

UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences is located on the Hospital Hill campus. (Source: University of Missouri-Kansas
City)

This gradually led to a pattern of abusing prescription drugs. Then, it grew to encompass widespread prescription drug abuse, and— in some cases— transitions to to other opioids, like heroin.

Recovery in these situations can be difficult.

“Often the stigma and discrimination that society has towards people who have a substance use disorder holds people back from seeking help earlier,” Carey stated.

Hagle, however, hopes to change this conversation and create positive intervention.

As for how the department plans to use the grant, she said, “We are looking forward to expanding the capacity of health and behavioral healthcare providers to provide needed treatment and recovery services.”

When asked about what the grant means from a student perspective, Cary stated that while the grant may not directly impact student life, it does present a unique opportunity for the school.

“A notable national grant that is housed at UMKC is an honor,” she explained. “It ultimately builds the capacity of the university to continue developing more grants and similar projects.”

The grant is to be distributed with $4 million dollars split between the next two years. Overall, the School of Nursing and Health Studies views this grant as not only money, but an opportunity to engage with a very real national issue.

 

jlfpw4@mail.umkc.edu

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