Intercollegiate partnership mitigates alcohol and drug misuse on campuses nationwide


September 8, 2020

News Story Content

An essential part of achieving the College of Pharmacy’s mission relies on its partnerships with others. The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HECAOD) is just one of these collaborations – but a perfect representation of accomplishing more together.

HECAOD is the premier alcohol and drug misuse prevention and recovery resource for colleges and universities across the country. HECAOD is a joint collaboration between The Ohio State University’s College of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, Office of Student Life, Generation Rx and the Collegiate Recovery Community. Its mission, in partnership with the nation’s colleges and universities, is to promote student success nationally by providing data-driven solutions to alcohol and drug misuse; lead the dialogue on collegiate alcohol and drug misuse and recovery in the national agenda; and ensure the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of HECAOD’s efforts.

Over the years, HECAOD has developed a myriad of resources to help college and community leaders develop, implement and evaluate programs and policies to reduce problems experienced by students related to alcohol and other drug misuse. The College of Pharmacy has played a critical role in the development of various HECAOD efforts, first under the leadership from Dr. Ken Hale, who served as HECAOD’s associate director from 2014-2018, and now under Dr. Molly Downing, who filled that role upon Dr. Hale’s retirement.

In her role with HECAOD, senior lecturer at the College of Pharmacy, Dr. Downing, supports the partnership between the two entities by providing guidance and expertise related to safe medication practices and prescription drug misuse prevention, treatment and recovery efforts. Specifically over the past year, Dr. Downing has administered the Generation Rx University grant, supported multiple projects related to implementing naloxone as a harm reduction strategy, represented both HECAOD and Generation Rx by delivering educational sessions at three national conferences and lent her instructional design expertise toward helping HECAOD develop online educational experiences.

As it relates to promoting safe medication practices and preventing medication misuse on college campuses, the college specifically has partnered with HECAOD to support the following efforts:


HECAOD developed ScreenU®, a web-based screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) tool to increase the capacity for campuses to implement SBIRT. ScreenU® identifies students who are misusing various substances and provides feedback and strategies to reduce their risk for experiencing negative consequences from their use. There are three different ScreenU® programs – ScreenU® Alcohol, ScreenU® Cannabis and ScreenU® Rx. Collectively, current data show that nearly 50 institutions have utilized at least one ScreenU® program, with close to 50,000 screenings collected nationwide.

Under Dr. Hale’s leadership, the College of Pharmacy supported HECAOD in developing ScreenU® Rx.  ScreenU Rx uses a unique screening tool to identify students engaging in the misuse of prescription drugs and provides them with recommendations and resources that support students in using medications safely.

The Generation Rx Grant Program

In 2017, HECAOD and Generation Rx developed a partnership with the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation that has led to a five-year, $50,000 grant. In each year of the grant, the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation will provide HECAOD with $10,000 to provide five $1,000 mini-grants to campuses to implement Generation Rx University resources to both Greek and non-Greek college students, oversee the implementation of those projects and provide technical assistance. Generation Rx University resources include educational activities, videos and visual aids that focus on safe medication practices and provide a deeper dive on both prescription stimulant and opioid misuse. 

This partnership was developed under the leadership of Dr. Hale. Since she stepped into the leadership role in fall 2018, Dr. Downing began supporting the partnership and now oversees this grant program and lends administrative support on behalf of HECAOD and Generation Rx.


In addition to various training topics, the college’s faculty have helped to organize national events around drug misuse and prevention. Specifically, during spring 2018, HECAOD, along with Dr. Fadi Smiley and in partnership with Dr. Ken Hale, offered the Prescription Drug Misuse Learning Collaborative. Webinar topics focused on why collegiate prescription drug misuse prevention efforts are needed, the collegian’s medication experience, the opioid epidemic, prescription stimulant misuse, public policy measures related to prescription drugs on campus and resources to implement prescription drug misuse prevention efforts on campus. Approximately 340 individuals registered for the collaborative from 109 different institutions.

During fall 2019, Dr. Downing helped organize the fall learning collaborative around Harm Reduction Strategies.

Implementation of naloxone as a harm reduction strategy by campus communities

When Dr. Downing joined the HECAOD team, she noticed that many campuses were seeking guidance on the use of naloxone as a harm reduction strategy on campus. With the help of COP faculty member Dr. Kelsey Schmuhl, Dr. Downing worked to develop and present a new preconference session for HECAOD’s National Meeting. Part of this session included Dr. Schmuhl delivering a naloxone training session to participants and distributing naloxone to each participant (naloxone product was donated by Franklin County Public Health).

State Opioid Response grant

HECAOD’s State Opioid Response grant proposal was accepted for funding by OhioMHAS (grant funded June 2020). The grant centers on HECAOD collaborating with the College of Social Work to coordinate a large-scale behavioral health training initiative, with partnerships by the College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and Student Wellness Center, to develop and deliver all required trainings. Dr. Kelsey Schmuhl is leading our college’s efforts, which include developing medication assisted treatment trainings for chemical dependency counselors (synchronous trainings via a videoconferencing platform). Dr. Downing will help HECAOD adapt all synchronous virtual trainings to an asynchronous online delivery modality.

If you are interested in supporting Generation Rx or HECAOD, or partnering with either organization, please email or respectively.