Grant Proposal of Opioid Abuse in the University of Minnesota (UMN)
The rate of abuse of drugs prescription in the nation has been on a dangerous trajectory in the recent past. Drug abuse is a general term that refers to the use of drugs outside of the prescribed instructions in every respect. The definition encompasses the use of drugs that have been prescribed to someone else, for a purpose other than the one prescribed for, in amounts other than the prescribed ones, or at times that are not in line with the prescription (Ashrafioun, 2013). The nonmedical or recreational use of drugs is one of the most common uses of abuse. Such a misuse has various consequences, but, in the end, the results are adverse. Some of the most commonly abused drugs in the nation are opioids, anti-depressants, and stimulants (Drainoni et al., 2016). While the use of all drugs should be stopped by all means, this proposal seeks for funds to help combat the abuse of opioids in the University of Minnesota.
Opioids are prescription drugs that act upon the central nervous system to relieve patients of the pain. Examples of opioids include morphine, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, among others. The abuse of these drugs has been on the rise in the last fifteen years, spanning the entire breadth and length of the United States of America (Drainoni et al., 2016). The problem of opioids abuse is compounded by the thin line between their use among the people who need them and those who do not, creating a very thin line between legitimate use and abuse. For instance, opioids are a necessity to relieve the pain of patients of the chronic pain that comes with cancer. However, the extended use of the drug is not advisable, since it leads to dependence on the highly addictive drugs (Krisberg, 2016). By the end of the year 2012, the United States alone was a home to more than 2.1 million, suffering disorders, stemming from abuse of opioids (Hart, 2016). The government takes efforts to combat this abuse by regulating the prescription of drugs, since there is an evident complexity in the problem that is arising from the apparent overlap between opioids’ legitimate use and abuse. However, the users must also get educated on the dangers and safe use of these drugs for their own protection.
The prevalence of the increased abuse rates is evident in the number of deaths that are attributable to the abuse that has been observed in the recent past. The years since 1999 have seen a steady unprecedented rise in the levels of opioid overdose deaths in the country. There were over eight thousand cases by the end of 1999, but going into 2015, the number was nearly at twenty-nine thousand, more than the deaths due to homicide (Collins, 2016). Of all opioids, prescription pain relievers are responsible for the highest number of overdose cases. The rise is reflective of the similar rise in the State of Minnesota, wherein the number has risen from sixty to three hundred and nineteen, an over five hundred percent rise. These opioid overdose-induced deaths span all ages, unlike other drugs that mostly affect the youths. More accurately, the CDC observes that the deaths are most prevalent among white males, aged between forty-five and fifty-four years of age in Minnesota (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). However, a significant number of deaths occur among youths of college-going age (Collins, 2016). Given the gravity of the situation within the state of Minnesota, public education on the appropriate use of opioids and the consequences of deviating from them is essential. The University of Minnesota is the biggest institution of higher learning in the state, and, therefore, it is ought to lead the way in spreading this awareness.
Significance of the Project
The project is intended to spread the awareness on the abuse of opioids across the University of Minnesota, which is essential for a few reasons. It is essential to underline the fact that all the deaths that arise from opioid overdose can be prevented (Wallace et al., 2013). Most of the victims die at home, suggesting that they were probably unprepared for the event (Bruehl et al., 2013). There are signs that indicate the approaching danger, in case of an overdose and knowledge of the same can save the victims’ lives with a timely response. Naloxone reverses the fatal effects of opioids, and if the victims could identify the signs at a right time, taking the drug would save their lives (Boyer, 2012). Moreover, the proper education can help to prevent the victims from overdosing on the drugs in the first place, which is achievable using alternatives to opioids as to the pain relievers (Walley et al., 2013). Therefore, it is essential that the education project in the University of Minnesota kicks off, so as to spread this awareness and save lives.
The increase in the rate of opioids abuse, reflected in the rising proportion of resultant fatalities, has been rising at an alarming rate in the recent past (Walley et al., 2013). If no actions will be taken to curb this trend of opioid abuse across all ages, there are likely to be an exceedingly high numbers of lost lives in the near future. Therefore, the university must act swiftly and begin the education program, since any time that is lost implies that lives could be lost too. This urgency is instrumental, since the program aims to have an effect on multiple levels. The students that cover the course will have the necessary knowledge, as they head into the highest risk age bracket noted above. In fact, they will be better prepared and, hence, will be safer. Moreover, they will be in a position to pass on the same knowledge to the people facing a high risk of death that they are in contact with, such as relatives and friends.
Goals and Benchmarks
Program Goal A
The first overarching goal of all the activities within this program is to increase the knowledge on the use and dangers of abusing opioids are known to people throughout the university.
- Increase the level of awareness on the dangers of abuse of opioids in the University of Minnesota by 50% within the first year. This objective is to ensure that there is an outreach throughout the school, reaching beyond the students that attend the lecture.
- Generate by 50% more awareness on the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, as well as the correct response procedure, including the use of the naloxone antidote in brands, such as Narcan by the end of the first year.
Program Goal B
Increase the use of alternative to opioid in the University and, hence, reduce the use of the latter therein.
- Increased uptake of the drugs that are be used as alternatives to opioids by 30%, and a corresponding decrease in the use of the latter within one year of introduction of the program in the University.
The research project is handled by a team of researchers who have a strong background in pharmacy and research. This is a team that is composed of both experienced professionals in pharmacy that have a history in practicing both in their line of specialization that brought them into contact with human beings, hence their interest in human interest concerns, which is necessary to join the workforce at the organization. The professionals in the organization have also worked in the field of research, identifying and tackling the most emergent issues that call for their medical and pharmaceutical background, such as the current problem of increased opioid abuse. Therefore, the team is not only qualified, but also highly motivated to help in defeating the rising rates of opioid abuse in the University of Minnesota.
The proposed project primarily entails education of students at the University, imparting on them an in-depth knowledge of all the important facts on the use and abuse of opioids. The education will take two major approaches that deal directly with the students. The first one is the development and introduction of a health literacy class that is called “Opioid Abusing”; the class revolves around dependency on the drug. This is the primary component of the entire project and it will be taught like a normal learning unit in school, taught in the first year of school. The secondary components of the program include a monthly free lunch for all students, where they are enlightened on the dependency they have. Moreover, there will be regular quizzes on the same subject, complete with awards. In these sessions, booklets on the abuse will be handed out for free among the students. Finally, the program will provide funding, using the grant to the Boynton clinic to facilitate the provision of the less addictive alternatives to opioids.
The success of the project primarily depends on the implementation of its primary phase. This will evidently require hiring the new staff, people that are both qualified to educate at the tertiary level of education and also knowledgeable enough on the matters of drug abuse, precisely the opioids. The course will encompass the definition of the primary terms in the study of the abuse, the proper use of opioids, its abuse, signs of an overdose, appropriate responses to the same, and other viable alternatives that are less addictive, among other relevant materials.
Five instructors will be responsible for the development of all the content that will be taught in the course, instruction in the lecture halls, and the examination of the facts taught at the end of the course. They will also preside over all the activities conducted outside of the classroom. This method of instruction and education is likely to succeed the most, since it takes multiple approaches, starting with the theoretical dispensation of facts, refresher activities that will capture the attention of all students, followed by a free lunch, and the presence of an examination at the end of the course to ensure that the students pay the course sufficient attention. In addition, the program provides practical alternatives to opioids at subsidized costs to encourage the students to stay away from the harmful and additive medicines (Walley et al., 2013).
On the one hand, the instructors who will be handed the duty of developing and teaching content in the university will largely be responsible for implementing the proposed project. On the other hand, a team of professionals from the overseeing organization will conduct the assessment of its success. This assessment will be based on the set specific objectives, listed in “the goals and benchmarks” section. To decide whether the program is succeeding in increasing awareness on the dangers of opioid abuse, overdose syndromes, and response mechanisms, the assessors will interview random students within the school by using the questionnaires. The questions will test their knowledge on the areas of interest. To set a benchmark to determine the impact of the program, the same interviews will be conducted on random students before the commencement of the program. The rate of replacement of the use of opioids with better alternatives will be assessed using the data from the Boynton clinic. The sales of opioids will be compared for the time between the beginning of the program and the end of the first year of the program. The same method will apply for the alternative drugs.
Depending on the outcome of the assessment exercise, the assessors will probably recommend a continuation of the program for subsequent years. However, this will be done if they are satisfied with the program and find it as effective as it was meant to be. The programs will only pass as successful if they meet the set benchmark targets, with a 5% margin for error. This means that 45% increase in the awareness on the dangers of abusing opioids and the reaction to an overdose will be the minimum acceptable standard for the program to be deemed as successful. Similarly, the minimum acceptable rate of substitution of opioids will be 25%. Lower scores than the minimum in two of these benchmark areas or more will signal the need to adopt the contingency methods. This will include a change of instructors at the school and the replacement of the extracurricular activities with popular games with themes built around the message of opioid abuse, with prizes to be won for motivation.
The budget for the program amounts to a total of $548,400. This sum of money will comprise of the salaries of the five instructors, who will earn a $7,000 monthly salary, throughout the year. Clearly, this is the main component expenditure, and justifiably so, since the “Opioid Abusing” course will be the main component of the program. In addition to the classes, there will be a monthly free lunch treats for all the students and the quiz sessions that will both be held on a monthly basis, at a cost of $700 per episode. The advanced drugs that will be stocked at Boynton clinic for use as alternatives to opioids will cost $100,000, while the clinic will undertake a training program for individual workers to increase their efficiency and precision in the prescription of opioids and, hence, reduce the chances of overdoses among the users (Ballantyne, 2016). The cost for this is budgeted at $20,000. The total sum, then, is as follows:
(5* $7000 * 12) + ($700 *12) + $100,000 + $20,000 = $548,400.
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The proposal contains the details of the project for which the $548,400 required is requested as a grant. The need for this program comes from the worrying trend in the recent statistics, revealing that the rate of abuse of opioids in the nation and consequent overdoses has been on a steady rise in the last fifteen years. The trend is even more worrying in the state of Minnesota, wherein the rate of overdose-induced deaths has increased five-fold in the same period. Most of these deaths are attributable to the ignorance on the right ways to use opioids, response to cases of overdoses, and the availability of alternatives. Therefore, there is a need to educate the public on all of these factors. The University of Minnesota is the biggest learning institution in the state and, hence it is an ideal place to launch the educational program. The proposed program mainly encompasses the development of a course for all students, extracurricular activities with learning themes, and a collaborative effort with the Boynton clinic to train the personnel and stock alternative medication. The proposal also encompasses clear goals to increase awareness and catalyze the substitution of opioids use, as well as measures by which to assess the success of the program. It also contains a contingency plan to use in the event of failure. On the positive side, its success will reflect in less dependency on opioids, the benefits that can be transferred to the entire state with similar educational efforts.