Prescription drug misuse, especially opioids, has reached "crisis" levels across the United States. Prescription opioids, specifically, have been recognized as a significant public health concern, with the White House designating the issue as a National Public Health Emergency.
According to published research, nonmedical use of opioids increased 4,680 percent from 1996 to 2011 and an estimated 4.4 percent of the adult population used opioids nonmedically (up from 1.8 percent from 2001 to 2002). Opioid misuse has led to a dramatic spike in drug-related mortality both nationwide and in Texas. An estimated 2,790 Texans died of a drug overdose in 2016 alone, and this number is likely an underestimation.
The PREscription Drug MIsuse Education and Research (PREMIER) Center was established in December 2018 with the goal of reversing the devastating effects of controlled substance prescription misuse on families, communities, and the health care system. It is the first center at the University of Houston dedicated to prescription drug misuse research and education.
The PREMIER Center will address currently unmet needs, including leading research on controlled substance prescription medications, educating key stakeholders involved in the prescribing and dispensing of prescription medications (e.g., prescribers, pharmacists), and developing educational opportunities for practitioners and professional students.
The mission of the PREMIER Center is to improve patient outcomes by providing education on safe and effective controlled substance prescription use and to serve as a catalyst for collaborative research efforts optimizing pharmacotherapy to manage pain and substance use disorders.
The mission of The PREMIER Center will be addressed by the following goals:
- Lead the advancement of prescription drug misuse prevention through research aimed at identifying patients with controlled substance prescription (CSP) addiction/dependence; applying appropriate methods to address the patient, providing preliminary counseling and referral of the patient to treatment, and improving the management of treatment through interprofessional collaboration of the treatment team;
- Educate key stakeholders, namely patients, pharmacists, prescribers, and other healthcare providers on proper CSP use and substance use disorder pharmacotherapy when appropriate;
- Develop interventions aligned with the mission of the center;
- Develop and enhance training in the city and state regarding naloxone use for opioid overdose reversals; and
- Develop interdisciplinary collaborations with faculty from University of Houston, researchers and clinicians within the Texas Medical Center, and other state and national institutions in order to advance the mission of the center.
Matthew A. Wanat