Case Western Reserve University receives $6M grant to help combat opioid crisis

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 1:31 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Case Western Reserve University was recently awarded a three-year, $6 million grant to train addiction care providers.

Richard Kruszynski, who will lead the university’s Substance Use Disorders “Center of Excellence”, said it’s all part of an effort to detect and respond to the opioid crisis.

“Addiction itself is a chronic illness, it’s a chronic health concern,” said Kruszynski. “There is no chronic health condition that doesn’t benefit from early detection, early response.”

According to the CDC, Ohio has the fourth-highest rate of unintentional drug-overdose deaths in the nation.

The CDC also reports in 2020 Ohio had 45.6 unintentional drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.

Eighty-six percent of those overdose deaths involved opioids, the CDC said.

“The first thought is it is alarming,” said Kruszynski. “You see that trend not only happening home in Ohio but nationally.”

He said the “Center of Excellence” program will teach clinics, students and treatment professionals, the best practices to tackle addiction.

The problem, he said, is seemingly fueled by how easy it is to find a wide variety of drugs.

“Increasingly over the past 10, 15 years they are appearing as prescription painkillers, Vicodin, etc,” he said.

Kruszynski told 19 News he hopes the program will be around for years to come to help addicts and families affected by the opioid epidemic.

“We are very much a part of the community and intend to be active in the community... It does no one any good if all of what’s being learned stays in the classroom,” said Kruszynski.