OSU Announces Initiative to Help With Oklahoma's Opioid Epidemic

Nov 3, 2017

Credit Oklahoma Watch

With Oklahoma leading the nation in addiction to prescription painkillers, OSU announced Friday it's establishing the Center for Wellness and Recovery.

There will be clinical and research components.

"We will create statewide access to addiction and pain treatment services, and we'll recruit national experts in the treatment of pain and addiction, and to conduct cutting-edge research in neuroscience, addictive psychology and pain management," said OSU Center for Health Sciences Dean Dr. Kayse Shrum.

The OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa will host the pain management clinic, while nonprofit 12 & 12 will house the addiction treatment clinic. Both should open early next year. Shrum said between the telemedicine program at OSU Center for Health Sciences and the university having some form of presence in every county in the state, the OSU Center for Wellness and Recovery can have a statewide impact.

Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White said addiction is a treatable and preventable brain disease at the root of many other problems in the state.

"Whether it's high rates of incarceration, whether it's people ending up in the back of a police car, whether it's — we've seen people ending up at the hospital in crisis with nowhere else to turn — or whether it's family fragmentation and children ending up in the foster care system," White said.

OSU Center for Health Sciences Psychiatry Chair Dr. Jason Beaman said the research component of the program will study causes of addiction besides pain.

"One of those things would be adverse childhood experiences, which Oklahoma leads the nation on," Beaman said. "So, we want to start discovering what the link between adverse childhood experiences and addiction is."

Other research will look at physiological changes addiction causes in the brain and whether they can be reversed as part of treatment.

OSU Center for Health Sciences will also start a one-year fellowship next summer to train two addiction medicine specialists a year, the first such program in Oklahoma.