Progress on Opioid Education and Naloxone Training Program

Since August 2019, 630 members of the Columbia community have been trained and now carry life-saving naloxone to be used in the case of an opioid overdose. 

Editor's note:

This story has been updated since original posting to reflect training participants through the month of October.

September 23, 2019

First announced in May 2019, this effort is part of a multi-disciplinary initiative between Columbia Health, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and the Columbia School of General Studies researchers, practitioners, and students.  

The program has identified and trained members of the campus community — both students and staff — to recognize signs of opioid overdose and administer lifesaving medication. 

Response to training opportunities within the Columbia community has been strong: by the summer’s end staff participants included Columbia Health, Lerner Hall Operations, Residential Life, and Undergraduate Student Life. Students from NSOP Orientation Leaders, Resident Advisers (CC/SEAS/GS), and GS Peer Advisors have completed the training. Through September 2019, trainings are planned for new Public Safety sergeants, Columbia Health peer leaders, student organizations, first year undergraduate students, and student council members. Moving forward, the training will also fulfill the Wellness requirement for Fraternity and Sorority Alpha standards at Columbia 

The participation levels far exceed targets set in the original grant proposal. Trainings have been well-received, with a number of participants expressing interest in becoming more involved with the project.  

students on College Walk

This summer, the team received phase 2 funding through the Irving Institute CTSA at Columbia University pilot Collaborative and Multidisciplinary Pilot Research Awards (CaMPR) to continue evaluation of the training program (Principal Investigators: Rachel Shelton; Lisa Rosen-Metsch). 

Research conducted as part of the training program assesses participant interest, motivation, and attitude. The team seeks to understand the level of concern around administering naloxone, including potential punitive or legal implications; assess the confidence and willingness created in participants to carry and administer naloxone; and consider opportunities and barriers to expand the program to other college campuses nationally. 

The NYC government estimates that 3 New Yorkers die from a drug overdose every day. “We do this training – not just for our campus community – but also for our greater New York community. This program puts naloxone closer to those who might need it,” said Michael McNeil, Columbia Health Chief of Administration and Opioid Overdose Prevention Program Director.  

As part of the initiative, Columbia Health became a Registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, recognized by New York City and State Departments of Health. 

In addition to participating in the training itself, several Columbia students also serve on the project team as part of the grant committee, training facilitators, liaisons to student groups, and assist with research. This effort supports objective 11 in the Columbia-JED Strategic Plan to ensure substance use policies and protocols best support students. 

Members of the multi-disciplinary research group include: 

  • Melanie Bernitz 
    Associate Vice President/Medical Director, Columbia Health 
    Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine (in the Center for Family and Community Medicine), Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons   

  • Lisa Rosen-Metsch 
    Dean, Columbia School of General Studies 
    Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health 

  • Rachel Shelton 
    Assistant Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health 

  • Michael McNeil 
    Chief of Administration, Columbia Health 
    Adjunct Assistant Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health 

  • Samuel Roberts 
    Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health 

  • Edward Nunes 
    Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University Irving Medical Center 

  • Carrigan Parish 
    Associate Research Scientist, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health 

  • Bonnie Li 
    Research & Quality Assurance Manager, Columbia Health 

  • Laura Brotzman 
    Program Coordinator, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health 

  • Catherine Gorodetsky 
    Special Projects Assistant, Columbia Health 

  • Sharon Sperling-Silber 
    Nurse Practitioner, Columbia Health Medical Services 

  • Jim Fey 
    Director of Morningside Operations, Public Safety 

  • Lichinia Beltre 
    Executive Director of Compliance, Student Financial Services 

  • Supriya Makam 
    Student, Columbia College 

  • Alexander Meshel 
    Graduate, Columbia College 

  • Dean Foskett 
    Student, Columbia School of General Studies 

  • Nicholas Ganek 
    Student, Columbia School of General Studies 

  • Matthew Lee 
    Student, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health