University of Alabama approves opioid research center

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Ryan Gillin

The University of Alabama is getting a new research center devoted to the prevention, treatment and management of substance abuse disorders.

The Center for Substance Use Research and Related Conditions will be located within the Capstone College of Nursing and in partnership with the Alabama Life Research Institute, and the UA System Board of Trustees approved the center’s construction this week.

Center Director Dr. Mercy Mumba said she believes this research must be prioritized.

“Alabama has experienced a large opioid crisis over the last decade,” Mumba said. “We have also seen an increase in overdose deaths in the last two and a half years basically because of COVID-19, but as well as resources that have not been allocated to combat substance use and opioid use disorder crisis in the state.”

This center will also serve as a place of training and collaboration for students and researchers.

“Having a center allows faculty and scientists to have collaborative partnerships with the state and college as well as other universities,” Mumba said.

The center will also focus on health equity and health disparities in rural areas across Alabama.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019 opioids were involved in nearly 50,000 overdose deaths and represented 70.6% of all drug overdose deaths. Alabama has the highest per-capita opioid prescription rate in the nation at 120 prescriptions per 100 persons, double the national average.

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