ENID, Okla. — Several Oklahoma institutions of higher learning are joining the fight against opioid abuse, with $250,000 in assistance from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Northern Oklahoma College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University are two of five schools in the state to receive a portion of the $250,000 State Opioid Response – Higher Education Community Outreach Grant, NOC announced Thursday.
University of Oklahoma, Northeastern A&M College and Oklahoma State University also received SOR funding, according to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
The state funding is meant to help these colleges arm themselves for the tasks of preventing, and even treating, opioid addiction on campus. Both NOC and NWOSU will be working together in these efforts, an NOC news release said.
“We are pleased that as a result of this grant, students will have more access to resources that can help prevent addiction and also help those in need of treatment identify recovery services,” NOC President Cheryl Evans said. “NOC is pleased to partner with Northwestern Oklahoma State University on this important initiative to help our students.”
NOC and NWOSU will provide "outreach, engagement and evidence-based prevention services, including health education, promotion and community consultation," the release said. "Efforts will focus on the general student population, as well as students at risk for opioid misuse, opioid disorder and opioid overdose."
Faculty, staff and students will undergo training to recognize and respond to opioid misuse and overdose, the release said, including how to access treatment services, how to properly dispose of opioids and how to administer naloxone, an injection used to counteract overdose.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma ranks sixth in the nation in the number of opioid prescriptions with eight out of 10 residents having a prescription,” NWOSU President Janet Cunningham said. “In addition, more overdose deaths in our state involve prescription opioids than all illicit drugs combined. We have a responsibility to help prevent opioid abuse and provide resources to help those who are addicted.”
The institutions plan to establish connections with local Tribes, to "extend access" to the addiction resources should they be needed, the release said. Prevention and treatment options will be made available online as well.