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Monnat takes part in White House roundtable aimed at reducing opioid overdoses

November 15, 2019

Shannon Monnat WHThe Maxwell School’s Associate Professor of Sociology Shannon Monnat was one of thirty university representatives invited to join public health officials from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, the Department of Education, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for a roundtable discussion of strategies for combatting opioid overdoses on college campuses. The event was held at the White House on Wednesday, November 13, 2019.

Monnat, who is also director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University, says that while very few college students are at risk of overdose from opioids, every student could find themselves in a position to save a life; and higher education is in a unique position to prepare the next generation of leaders with a better understanding of the risk factors that contribute to abuse and overdose.

According to roundtable participants, college campuses face dual problems of party culture and students self-medicating from undiagnosed mental illnesses and/or anxiety from the college experience and college demands. Students who are misusing other substances (e.g., cocaine, Adderall, MDMA) are at an increased risk for opioid misuse or exposure to substances that have been adulterated with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

“Many people who misuse opioids are also misusing other substances, and a common driver of this is self-medicating,” says Monnat, whose research examines the connections between social disadvantage, place, public policy, and health. “Health policy initiatives designed to tackle the opioid crisis have focused primarily on downstream solutions designed to help those who are already in the throes of addiction, which is important, but much more can be done to combat the underlying factors that cause people to abuse drugs in the first place.”

At the event, U.S. Surgeon General VADM Jerome M. Adams and ONDCP Director James Carroll stressed the importance of ensuring access to life saving interventions like naloxone and substance abuse prevention programs on college campuses.


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