Ric Kruszynski and new Substance Use Disorders Center of Excellence team discuss better practices to combat high-risk drug use

Ric Kruszynski headshot

Mandel School team launches a statewide initiative

With consistently high death rates from drug overdoses—including opioids—Ohio remains in crisis. To tackle substance-use disorders at a statewide level, leaders at a new Case Western Reserve center are creating new systems and outreach initiatives to better connect addiction-treatment providers to the most effective research and practices.

One problem involving current care is that many organizations provide treatment as it’s always been done, despite methods with evidence for better outcomes. “Our approach allows us to shrink the knowledge gap and get practitioners the best available information,” said Ric Kruszynski (SAS ’93), who directs the new Substance Use Disorders Center of Excellence.

The center is housed in the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the university’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The state award: Ohio is providing $6 million in federal funds and granted its “Center of Excellence” designation to the CWRU center, meaning it will serve as hub and leader for new statewide initiatives involving counseling and treatment for substance-use disorders.

Key goals of the new Substance Use Disorders Center of Excellence:

  • Identify what providers need to know—and then train counselors and other treatment practitioners throughout Ohio.
  • Bring practitioners together for learning, sharing and problem-solving.
  • Create an online repository for references, resources and other model treatment tools.


This story appeared in the fall/winter 2023 issue of Think magazine.