News & Announcements

New Center for Behavioral Health Sciences Seeks to Address Opioid Crisis

Will focus on basic and applied research and community education

Center for Behavioral Health Sciences

The explosion of opioid addiction over the last two decades has taken the lives of many individuals, devastated families and neighborhoods, and put significant strain on the U.S. health and criminal justice systems. A new research center established by Cleveland State University will bring together expertise in social work, psychology, public health, education and urban policy with the goal of better treating current addicts and preventing the further spread of addiction nationally.

The Center for Behavioral Health Sciences will focus on basic and applied research on the science of addiction, the linkages between addiction and mental illness, and the public policies necessary to improve treatment and reduce recidivism. It will also develop innovative educational programming and prevention techniques and will work with CSU’s numerous community partners to disseminate best practices locally and nationally.

“Drug addiction is an extraordinarily complex disease and is impacted by a wide variety of medical, psychological and cultural factors,” notes Cathleen Lewandowski, professor of social work at CSU and director of the Center for Behavioral Health Sciences. “To properly address addiction we therefore need an interdisciplinary approach that looks at the issue holistically. The center will seek to improve our understanding of what can cause drug addiction; what can help and what inhibits treatment; and how health systems, government and educational institutions can collaborate better to meet this challenge.”

CSU partnered with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, an acknowledged leader in treating addiction since the founding of Rosary Hall in 1952, to help develop the vision and priorities for the Center for Behavioral Health Sciences. The Center has established several pilot research projects, with the support of CSU’s Office of the Vice President for Research, that address major aspects of drug addiction, prevention and treatment. These include:

  • A study assessing the correlation between childhood trauma and substance abuse. The findings will be used to develop better counseling methods for preventing adolescent drug use.
  • Research on the connection between depression, insomnia and opioid use. The project will develop interventions to better identify and address depression-related insomnia that can lead to sleeping pill abuse.
  • An analysis of the service delivery system for addiction treatment in Northeast Ohio. The team will seek to improve the connectivity of the system to make it easier for individuals to identify and get admitted to treatment centers.

In addition to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, CSU will also collaborate with its other health care and academic partners to undertake research and data analysis, conduct survey work, and test various interventions and educational initiatives.

“We are very lucky to have a number of key community partners who are on the front lines every day addressing the opioid epidemic,” adds Lewandowski. “Their expertise and support will be essential to helping the Center reach its goal of reducing the terrible toll addiction has taken on our society.”

The Center for Behavioral Health Sciences is currently seeking external funding for expansion of these pilot efforts and for additional research and educational programming.

Visit the Center’s website to learn more about its activities.