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OU to host opioid symposium: Athens event to focus on fight against substance use disorder

ATHENS — Ohio University, as part of its continued effort to combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic by providing experts and resources, and by creating partnerships with local and state leaders, will host the Community Symposium on Opioid Interventions from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 4 at the Margaret M. Walter Hall Rotunda on the Athens campus.

The event is free and open to the public; online registration is now available. Continuing Education credits will be available for nurses and social workers who choose to attend the symposium.

Topics included at the symposium are anticipated to include clinical workforce expansion, increasing employment opportunities for people in recovery and trauma-informed care approaches.

“This community symposium is designed to highlight ways in which collaboration is making a difference in Southeast Ohio’s fight against substance use disorder,” said Tracy Plouck, the event’s organizer and a population health executive in residence for the Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP). “Progress on topics such as prevention, trauma informed care, clinical workforce expansion and recovery housing are occurring in our area of the state, and we want to share ‘how-to’ information with others. Ideally, the symposium will help share ideas between community leaders and serve as a catalyst for further progress.”

A recent Ohio University study revealed more than 1 million years of life were lost in Ohio from overdose deaths, including opioids, between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2018.

The study was led by the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health (The Alliance) — a collaborative initiative formed by CHSP, other higher education partners, health systems, insurers, policy groups and population health advocates.

“It’s staggering to realize that, in just 10 years, Ohio has lost more than a million years of life due to drug overdose deaths. Those are years we can never get back. Those are years that families will no longer have with their loved ones,” said CHSP Dean Randy Leite. “This symposium represents a collection of people who are passionate about finding solutions to the opioid epidemic so that Ohio’s communities may one day no longer suffer this level of tragedy.”

Next month’s symposium aligns with OHIO President M. Duane Nellis’ strategic pathways for building an engagement ecosystem to further the University’s role as a positive catalyst for quality of life changes in the region.

“Opioids have had a tremendous impact on the community, and it’s incumbent upon us to do what we can to help with the healing process,” Nellis said. “The Community Symposium on Opioid Interventions is a powerful next step to facilitate sharing of information that can make a positive difference in Southeast Ohio and the state.”

Nellis has also led the creation of OHIO’s Opioid Task Force, which is composed of both community members and University faculty, staff and administrators from the Athens and Regional Campuses to help enable OHIO’s public and private partners to collectively elevate the impact of the region’s opioid-related initiatives.