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Training physicians, nurses to treat opioids addiction is focus of UB grant

National Public Radio

A new state grant will help the University at Buffalo train physicians and nurses on how to medically treat people who are addicted to opioids.
UB's Research Institute on Addictions is spearheading the training effort with university-based clinicians from the Medical School. There is an FDA-approved medication called buprenorphineto treat opioid addiction. However, before it can be used, RIA Director Kenneth Leonard said physicians and nurses need to be properly trained.

"Buprenorphine helps alleviate the cravings people who are addicted to opiates feel," Leonard said.

But the narcotic buprenorphine is not the entire answer. Leonard said it needs to be accompanied by a comprehensive program for those battling opioid addiction.

"It's must be part of a full set of psychological and social interventions, ideally with professionals at chemical dependency treatment centers," he said.

Leonard said their training efforts will focus on 16 counties and tribal areas of New York where opioid deaths are their highest.

"We've never seen something as rapid, as pervasive and as deadly as we've seen with the current opioid and heroin epidemic," Leonard said.

This latest initiative, according to Leonard, builds on UB's already strong presence in assisting the Erie County Opioid Epidemic Task Force in responding to the current crisis.