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The Future of Addiction and Recovery

Challenge Ambassador: Jim Berry, Chair of Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry; Director of Addiction Services, WVU School of Medicine

Challenge Overview

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the life expectancy had declined for Americans due to what has been termed the Deaths of Despair. The three primary contributors to these deaths are suicide, drug overdose and liver failure. Addiction is a key driver of all three. The past two decades have seen almost a million people die due to overdose which also has accounted for close to 2% of all US deaths in 2020. West Virginia has consistently led the nation in the rates of these deaths. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these deaths have skyrocketed with a 50% increase in 2020 for West Virginians.

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Team #1 — Prevention

Proposed Project

Prevention Team

The Prevention Team pitched a project to increase direct access to and knowledge of life saving naloxone to those in need, as well as friends or family who may be most able to acutely intervene in an overdose situation.

This project was offered up to $10,000 in planning funding.

Team Members

  • Nila Cobb, WVU Extension Specialist, Extension Service
  • Mariya Cherkasova, Assistant Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Medicine
  • Kari Law, Associate Professor/Psychiatry Section Chief, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Director Telepsychiatry and Forensic Psychiatrist, School of Medicine - Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry
  • Dan Elswick, Vice Chair for Education, Residency Program Director, Associate Professor, School of Medicine
  • Mark Garofoli, Director of Experiential Learning, School of Pharmacy
  • Gordon Smith, Stuart M. and Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professor, School of Public Health
  • Facilitator: Heather Harris, Educational Programs Manager, WVU Art Museum

Team #2 — Treatment/Recovery

Proposed Project

Let’s Stop Wasping and Get on the Van!

The “Let’s Stop Wasping and Get on the Van!” program is a collaborative initiative to provide mobile unit services including substance use disorder screening, counseling, Medicaid enrollment and more to help reduce barriers to services for people with substance use disorders.

This project was offered up to $10,000 in planning funding.

Team Members

  • Judith Feinberg, Vice Chair, Research and Professor, Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine
  • Tom Menighan, B. S. Pharm, MBA, (Hon) ScD, School of Pharmacy Alumnus
  • Kandi Messenger, Health Educator, Extension Service
  • Susan Morgan, Clinical Professor, School of Dentistry
  • Brianna Shepard, Research Associate, Office of Health Affairs
  • Frankie Tack, Service Assistant Professor, Mental Health and Addiction Studies Coordinator, College of Education and Human Services
  • Facilitato r : Jessica Vanderhoff, Director of Assessment and Planning, University Librarian, WVU Libraries