Combining Research and Practice to Tackle Lower Price Hill’s Drug Epidemic

Michael Brubaker

While teaching and mentoring students to become professional substance-abuse counselors, Dr. Michael Brubaker has established himself as one of the best, most popular professors in CECH. A two-time recipient of the “Golden Apple” award for outstanding performance as an educator, students rave about the assistant professor’s ability to make learning relevant and enjoyable. 

When he’s not teaching in the classroom, Dr. Brubaker is on the front lines of the heroin and prescription-drug epidemic that’s destroying communities across the U.S. In the past year, he’s secured three community grants for substance-abuse-prevention programs in Lower Price Hill, where drug abuse is a major issue.

Through a grant from the Center for Clinical Translational Science and Training (CCTST), Brubaker combines research and practice to better understand why people become addicted to heroin and prescription drugs and what the community is doing to treat them. The CCTST grant enables Brubaker and his team to examine barriers users experience in getting treatment while providing educational interventions for those who overdose. To gather information, he and his students interviewed 50 people in Lower Price Hill, drug users and non-users alike, to understand their views on the local epidemic. A second grant funded by Interact for Health supports Lower Price Hill Caring Connections, which conducts community-based participatory research and coalition building. Lastly, a grant provided by the Coalition for a Drug-Free Cincinnati trains community members and professionals for active intervention in Price Hill.

Brubaker thinks the grants have served several purposes: helping drug users change their behavior; improving identification of overdoses; and increasing awareness to help abusers reverse their addiction. Additionally, he and his students are working at Oyler School in Price Hill, providing them with real-world experience while helping the school’s underserved population.