Featured Scholar : Dennis P. Watson, PhD
Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences
Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health
The opioid epidemic has touched every corner of our nation. Decades of scientific evidence demonstrates pragmatic harm reduction approaches (e.g., syringe exchanges, opioid substitution, and naloxone access) are key to more effective opioid-related prevention and treatment, yet wide-held misconceptions regarding substance use and substance users have impeded their impact. These misconceptions are rooted in an ideology of “bootstrap individualism” and popular 12-step/abstinence-only approaches that have little scientific support. Thus, dissemination and implementation of scientific findings into opioid-related policy and practice is of critical importance.
Dr. Dennis Watson’s work in this area developed from his professional interests in mental health, substance use, and community need for research. In collaboration with Dr. Bradley Ray, his projects examine the opioid epidemic in Indiana. This includes three federally-funded evaluation studies of different Indiana-based prevention and treatment efforts and a study of the implementation and effectiveness of an emergency department-based intervention for connecting opioid overdose survivors to medication-assisted treatment. A major focus of his current work is ensuring effective communication of results to community members, advocates, and legislators, through his work with an interdisciplinary team of researchers
Dr. Watson’s work to disseminate and implement scientific findings into opioid-related policy and practice in Indiana is another example of how IUPUI faculty are TRANSLATING RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.