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WVU providing multi-pronged approach solving the opioid crisis

Staff report

The State Journal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.  — President Donald Trump was briefed Tuesday about the opioid crisis in the U.S., after last week receiving a report from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis calling opioid addiction a “state of emergency.”

WVU Health Sciences Vice President Dr. Clay Marsh

West Virginia University experts say that opioid addiction is a problem both medical and social, and the University has a multi-pronged approach to helping addicts and their families deal with their struggle. In November 2015, the WVU Health Sciences Vice President Clay Marsh convened the Substance Abuse Task Force to facilitate cross-disciplinary efforts and to develop and sustain approaches to clinical care, education, training, research, outreach and data collection.

“It’s becoming clear that the opioid epidemic and the chronic health problems we encounter in West Virginia and beyond are symptoms of a deeper problem. We need to address the root issues that drive the epidemic: A breakdown in communities’ and families’ ability to establish the connections to others that provide love and safety, purpose, and a mindset of abundance and gratitude,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for health sciences at WVU.  “The answer to addiction and chronic health problems may be found among our best friends and colleagues, our families, our communities and our struggles.”

“Currently, our state is woefully unequipped from a treatment workforce standpoint to meet the ever-increasing need for skilled providers,” said Dr. James Berry, medical director and associate professor at WVU. “As such, WVU has made it a priority to train primary care providers in the effective use of medication assisted therapies. Besides training clinicians on site in Morgantown, we are providing ongoing mentorship to physicians and therapists throughout the state via regularly scheduled tele-mentoring sessions.”

“We have integrated the CDC’s opioid-prescribing guidelines into our School of Medicine and inter-professional education programs across WVU Health Sciences. Our School of Pharmacy is managing the Medicaid Rational Drug Therapy program, with a strong emphasis on opioid prescribing to assist practitioners and ensure safe, cost-effective drug therapy for patients. WVU also is home to a new pain management clinic focused on alternative therapies and a new Addiction Fellowship program that trains care givers,” said Dean of the School of Public Health Dr. Jeffrey Coben. “In addition, the School of Public Health and WVU’s CDC-sponsored Injury Control Research Center are collaborating with state agencies and federal partners on a variety of initiatives, including a prescription drug monitoring program, enhanced surveillance project, and a wide-reaching intranasal naloxone distribution and training effort in which 8,000 life-saving kits have been provided to groups across the state.”
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