Do you want to be a drug addict? Your answer is probably no, but becoming addicted is easier than you might think.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. The National Drug Abuse Institute defines opioids as a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and many others.

Many programs throughout the country have been working to combat the drug epidemic that has swept the nation; one such program is in our very own back yard.

East Tennessee State University has been awarded a national honor related to the university’s efforts in battling the opioid epidemic.

According to a University Relations press release, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Interprofessional Education Collaborative recognized ETSU with the 2018 Public Health Excellence in Interprofessional Education Collaboration award earlier this month.

ETSU’s efforts have been primarily coordinated by the Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment in close collaboration with the institution’s interdisciplinary, community-based Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group, which has grown to 250 members since its establishment in 2012. Projects from the group have included educational presentations, scholarly articles published, policy briefings and more.

According to a 2017 press release, ETSU entered into a non-profit clinical partnership with Ballad Health to deliver comprehensive medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder to the region, called Overmountain Recovery. Another partner is Frontier Health.

“It is rewarding and humbling to see that national entities like the U.S. Public Health Service and the Interprofessional Education Collaborative are recognizing the work happening here at ETSU through our Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment,” said Dr. Robert Pack, the center’s executive director and a faculty member and associate dean in ETSU’s College of Public Health.

Members of the ETSU group will be recognized in June at the Association of American Medical Colleges Learning Center in Washington, D.C.

“This award goes a long way in reinforcing the value in our work and its significance across the country,” said Pack.