Purdue joins fight against opioid epidemic

The new research Purdue will be doing will help quantify issues surrounding the epidemic and show what areas need to be addressed now.

Posted: Jan 16, 2019 5:47 PM
Updated: Feb 11, 2019 10:11 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Purdue is helping fight the opioid epidemic by conducting key research. The university announced its involvement at the Opioid Task Force meeting on Wednesday.

"Because opioid use disorder and the opioid crisis is such a national interest, everyone is looking for data on what works and how to bring communities together,” said Nicole Adams, who works for Purdue Nursing and is helping conduct the opioid research.

The Opioid Task Force meeting is a time when local organizations come together to discuss how to overcome addiction. Peer recovery coaches, people in active recovery, recovery organizations, and local law enforcement are just a few of those who attend these meetings.

The new research Purdue will be doing will help quantify issues surrounding the epidemic and show what areas need to be addressed now.

"Anytime you have a major university on your side like Purdue helping you analyze and make sense of the data you are collecting, helping the team is highly beneficial because we want to be an outcomes driven program,” said Nathaniel Metz. Metz is a paramedic with Phoenix Paramedics and is on Tippecanoe County’s newly formed Opioid Quick Response Team.

The research is crucial to getting funding to keep essential programs like the QRT alive.

“We’re pretty confident that we are going to get additional funding to continue the program,” said Metz. “But that data is what is going to drive us, so are we making an impact? And if the data shows that we are, then we will probably continue to get funding,” said Metz.

Andrew Cabamalan is the project manager for the research team. He said they want to quantify a method that can be spread outside Tippecanoe County's borders.

"We want to take that model community and be able to advise other communities to have the same success that Tippecanoe does," he said.

“The research aspect is basically bringing strong methodology to looking at the data we collect and analyzing it so that we know we really made an impact and that when we reach that impact we can share it with other communities,” added Adams.

Jason Padgett with Home With Hope Recovery said the task force has made tremendous strides since this time last year.

“Now to hear Purdue University standing up there talking about how they are going to help us figure out how to truly create that model of care and to see the collaboration between substance use and mental health resources is just amazing,” he said.

Cabamalan estimates that they will have some numbers already produced by this summer for organizations involved in this fight to utilize.

“This gives us the opportunity to dig a little deeper into the community with recovery and all the different stakeholders involved here,” he said.

Metz hopes the data will answer important questions.

"So the people who aren't engaging (in the QRT), why not? How can we touch those individuals and get those individuals into treatment,” he said.

The current grant funding the QRT will last through April 30th. Metz said as of January 3rd, they had gotten around nine people into treatment programs.

Padgett said this collaboration with Purdue will take their fight to a new level.

"From just a lot of providers who are working together to having the support of a major university with all kinds of resources and educational tools could really make us a leader in the midwest," he said.

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