University of Arizona & Oklahoma State University Join Forces to Fight Opiod Addiction

Opiod Addiction bottle of pills spilled

Last week, the University of Arizona and Oklahoma State University launched a cooperative program to combat the opioid crisis and chronic pain. The new initiative will combine research, therapy, and education to find non-addictive treatments for chronic pain and innovative treatments for substance use problems.

University of Arizona & Oklahoma State University Joint Effort

A new research alliance between the universities of Arizona and Oklahoma State was unveiled last week in an effort to address the nation’s opioid crisis and chronic pain epidemic.

“The most important beneficiaries of this partnership will be millions of people who suffer from pain or are at risk of addiction and their families. Given the extreme need to address the opioid crisis, it’s a strategic priority,” said Dr. Robert Robbins, President of the University of Arizona. “This is one of those true rare win-win situations. We believe that by tackling chronic pain and opioid use disorder together, the University of Arizona and OSU will lead us to discovery of novel non-addictive treatments for those with chronic pain while discovering new ways to treat substance use disorder.”

Research, treatment, and education will be combined in an effort to find non-addictive treatments for chronic pain and to uncover new treatments for substance use disorders.

Research Centers Involved

A new research alliance between the universities of Arizona and Oklahoma State was unveiled last week in an effort to address the nation’s opioid crisis and chronic pain epidemic.

#1 University of Arizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center (CPAC)

Through clinical care, research, education, and legislation, CPAC aims to assist persons who suffer from chronic pain and substance use disorders.

Furthermore, CPAC intends to educate and train the future generation of subspecialty health care professionals and researchers, as well as to reach out to the general public with the most up-to-date outcome research and education.

#2 Center for Excellence in Addiction Studies (CEAS) at University of Arizona Health Sciences

CEAS aims to increase human potential and health by training the next generation of health care professionals, exploring and addressing major health care challenges, providing compassionate and culturally sensitive treatment, and creating healthier communities for all.

#3  Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences’ National Center for Wellness & Recovery (NCWR)

NCWR is dedicated to finding solutions to addiction, expanding access for those in need, and bringing hope to Oklahoma.

NCWR gives hope to the fight against opioid use disorder through biological and clinical research, medical education, and creative patient treatment.

Research & Treatment Goals

Each center brings a unique set of skills to the table. NCWR has collected tens of thousands of biosamples from people with various addictions who are in treatment or recovery over the years. It also gets access to Purdue Pharma’s 18,000 new research compounds, which were developed to target neural pathways connected to chronic pain and addiction.

CPAC, a new institute at the University of Arizona, specializes in the neuroscience of chronic pain and addiction. The center investigates the opioid crisis from a variety of perspectives, ranging from preclinical and clinical research to clinical care, education, policy, and technological development.

CEAS also has experience in genetic targeting, the use of neuroanalytical methodologies, massive data processing, and sophisticated behavioral assessment of drug-like substances, according to a press statement from the University of Arizona.

As part of a collaboration, the three institutes will combine their respective scientific and clinical capacities to fulfill numerous goals of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative, which was established in April 2018).

Fentanyl Point of Emphasis

More than 150 people die every day, according to the CDC, from synthetic opioid overdoses like fentanyl. More Americans died from fentanyl overdoses last year than from gun and auto accidents combined.

The Arizona/Oklahoma State team will focus on alternatives to opioids for treating acute and chronic pain, as well as innovative approaches for treating and preventing relapse from opioid use disorder and other improvements in addiction research.

“We want to discover a medicine that can be advanced very, very quickly to implementation in humans to combat the overdose that happens with fentanyl,” said Frank Porreca, Ph.D., Cosden Professor of Pain and Addiction Studies in the Department of Pharmacology at the UArizona College of Medicine and one of the project leads.

The national pandemic of fentanyl overdoses is one of the primary issues that the alliance is addressing. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid commonly prescribed for severe pain, but because of its high potency (up to 100 times that of morphine) and low price, it’s frequently mixed with other substances like cocaine and heroin by drug dealers.

As a result, many drug users are at risk of fatal fentanyl overdoses because they unknowingly consume huge dosages of the drug, mistaking it for something else like OxyCodone.

Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum commented on the significance of the relationship between the two universities stating, “I think anytime there is a crisis to this level, it’s important for universities to use their intellectual prowess to come together to really create solutions for society and I believe that’s what we have the opportunity to do here.”

5 Fentanyl Abuse FAQs

Take a moment to learn more about the country’s fentanyl problem by reading the following frequently asked questions.

#1 What is fentanyl made from?

Fentanyl is an opioid that has been synthesized. Fentanyl’s main effects are pleasure and pain alleviation. Fentanyl is synthesized in a lab, unlike other opioids that are derived directly from the opium poppy plant, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

#2 How strong is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with a potency of 80 to 100 times that of morphine. Fentanyl was created as a pain reliever for cancer patients, and it was administered to the skin as a patch. Fentanyl is also diverted for abuse due to its potent opioid effects.

#3 What does fentanyl look like?

Fentanyl powder comes in a range of colors from off-white to light brown. When fentanyl is combined with other powders, it gives the combination an off-brown appearance.

#4 How many types of fentanyl are there?

Acetyl fentanyl, butyryl fentanyl, beta-hydroxythiofentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, 4-fluoroisobutyryl fentanyl, acryl fentanyl, and U-47700 are only a few of the illicitly created synthetic opioids that law enforcement has reportedly encountered.

#5 How dangerous is fentanyl?

Fentanyl poisoning is a very real, lethal threat. Fentanyl has an estimated potency of 80 times that of morphine and hundreds of times that of heroin. It is a very addictive substance. Fentanyl (and other opioids) could be used to render a person incapacitated and limit their capacity to function.


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