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IU launches comprehensive initiative combating opioid addiction



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IU School of Nursing Dean and professor Robin Newhouse has announced 16 IU pilot programs aimed to respond to drug and opioid addiction. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

The IU School of Nursing announced on Feb. 5 the start of 16 pilot programs as part of an initiative working to prevent and treat addictions, according to an IU news release. 

The programs are Phase One in IU’s $50 million commitment to the Responding to the Addictions Crisis Grand Challenges initiative. The pilot programs will focus on five areas statewide: data collection and analysis, education and training, policy analysis and development, the science of addictions and community and workforce development. 

"These 16 projects collectively move us closer to achieving the goals of our overall, comprehensive plan, representing a critical first step in our statewide effort to battle this epidemic," said Robin Newhouse, the dean of IU’s School of Nursing, in the news release. 

The projects involve collaborations with faculty, researchers, community groups, public health departments and hospital systems to create a comprehensive base for understanding and dealing with drug addiction in Indiana, according to the release.

The Regenstrief Institute, an IU-affiliated informatics and healthcare research group, are developing the Indiana Addictions Data Commons which will serve as a comprehensive database dealing with opioid addiction. The database will be available to health centers, public health officials and law enforcement, according to the news release.

Peter Embi, the president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute, said creating a comprehensive database is essential to any solution.

"We can't solve this crisis without having a constant and reliable finger on its pulse," Embi said in the release. "By working with our partners to aggregate the relevant clinical and community-level data and enable access via a comprehensive research hub, the Indiana Addictions Data Commons will provide the critical insights we need to better understand and address this epidemic for all Hoosiers."

Dr. Sarah Wiehe, a professor at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis, is working with Eskenazi Health and Marion County Health Department to improve the health and well-being of mothers addicted to opioids. 

According to the release, Wiehe will also investigate infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome. NAS occurs when children are exposed to opioids and their addictive effects while in the womb.

"We need much better data on which medical or psychological treatment methods are most effective,” Wiehe said in the release. “Then we can help our health care practitioners adjust overall treatment to improve care for babies born with NAS." 

For a full list of the Phase One Projects and Programs see the IU Newsroom release.

Dominick Jean

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