Seeking opioid answers

Ohio officials had the right idea in developing a global technology challenge for ideas to fight the opioid epidemic.

Instead of relying on investigations and arrests to stem the flow of illegal opioids or counting on the same old strategies — that do not seem to be working — to treat addiction, the Buckeye State sought fresh ideas from unexpected sources. Now the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge has announced the five projects that will receive $10,000 to move into their next phase.

– Judson Brewer, of Massachusetts, is working on a digital therapy that would extend his Craving to Quit program ideas.

– Kinametechs LLC, of Ohio, hopes to develop an augmented reality-based interactive coaching system that would customize surgery rehabilitation routines and perhaps reduce the demand for opioid painkillers.

– Lee Barrus, of Utah, is working on an opioid risk assessment screening app for medical professionals.

– The Edification Project, also of Massachusetts, would use virtual reality to help prevent addiction in teens and young adults.

– The University of Dayton Research Institute is working on a neurofeedback application that would provide real-time information to patients about their brain activity, helping them take back control by better understanding how addiction affects their brains.

Such innovation is essential as we fight this evolving epidemic. As part of a multi-faceted approach dominated by efforts to diversify and improve the economy in a way that drastically reduces joblessness and hopelessness in our region, this kind of research could provide pieces of the puzzle that have been missing for addicts and those hoping to help them break that cycle.

Best of luck to those who have advanced to the second phase of the challenge, as they search for solutions to a crisis that simply must be solved.