Columbia University launches center for substance use disorders

Columbia University launches center for substance use disorders

New York City’s Columbia University will work to combat the opioid crisis through its new center.

The Center for Healing of Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders-Enhancing Intervention, Development and Implementation (or CHOSEN) will bring together experts in research, education, and community engagement from throughout the city and across the state to create and implement programs, policies and practice to treat addiction.

Columbia’s School of Social Work, in conjunction with the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Division on Substance Use Disorders and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, will begin the center, bringing together more than 30 of the school’s scientists and researchers from across disciplines, including the Columbia Business School, the School of Engineering and the Data Science Institute.

The misuse of and addiction to opioids and other substances—including heroin, stimulants, and other drugs— is a public health emergency,” said Nabila El-Bassel, University Professor and the Willma and Albert Musher Professor of Social Work, one of four directors who will lead the new center. “The time has come to bring together the power of Columbia’s experts working across the spectrum of substance use disorders to create a University-wide approach to treating and healing addiction.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. Opioids were involved in 47,600 of those deaths, the CDC said. The organization estimates that more than 2.5 million Americans have opioid use disorder.

The sheer power of this cross-disciplinary team has the potential for enormous impact on a stubborn and devastating problem,” said Melissa Begg, dean of the School of Social Work. “I have great faith in my colleagues’ ability to come together across disciplines and make significant headway using novel tools and methods. Lives depend on it.”