HEAL Researchers Honored at UK Basketball Game
Last April, UK – partnering with the Commonwealth of Kentucky – was one of four sites selected from across the country for the HEALing Communities Initiative. UK’s grant from the National Institutes of Health totals $87 million, the largest in its history, and is focused over the next three years on reducing opioid-related deaths by 40 percent in 16 counties across the Commonwealth.
During the Tuesday men’s basketball game, 30 of the researchers and staff working on the HEAL grant were honored on the floor, led by the study’s principal investigator and director of UK’s Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, Sharon Walsh.
The opioid epidemic has taken a heavy toll on Kentucky:
- More than 2 million Americans live with opioid use disorder.
- Life expectancy in this country has dropped — fueled, in large measure, by drug overdose deaths.
- Kentucky currently is ranked 5th in the United States for opioid overdose deaths and has suffered through the opioid epidemic since its inception.
UK’s study is part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, a bold, trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. The goal is to develop evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis and offer new hope for individuals, families and communities affected by this devastating disorder. More broadly, the idea is to see if solutions in different communities across the state can be scaled up and replicated as part of a national approach to the challenge.