Community opinions on opiate addiction to be studied at RIT

Criminal justice researchers will conduct short surveys during Imagine RIT festival

Follow Greg Livadas on Twitter
Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Rochester Institute of Technology students from the Center for Public Safety Initiatives hope visitors to this year’s Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival on May 6 will take a minute to take a survey about opiate addiction in the community.

The results will be published by the Center for Public Safety Initiatives in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts and the data can be used to help find ways to help curb overdoses.

“This is really a problem in the United States in general and here in New York, where they have been a huge rise in opiate deaths,” said Shayna Gray, a fourth-year chemistry major from Vestal, N.Y. who helped develop the survey.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid use in the U.S. is in epidemic proportions, resulting in 47,055 overdose deaths in 2014, nearly triple the number from five years earlier.

A team of students, faculty and staff discussed what should be asked in the survey, which they say will take a minute or less to fill out. QR codes will be printed in the Imagine RIT program and on posters at their booth inside the Gordon Field House, and laptops or iPads will be available if visitors want to use one to take the anonymous survey.

Questions will ask about their experience with prescription opiates and policy questions including whether emergency treatments to combat overdoses should be made available over-the-counter or whether facilities should be opened to medically supervise opiate injections by addicts.

“We know it’s a sensitive topic, so we’ve put a lot of thought into how to phrase the questions, and we’ve done it in a way that most people won’t be afraid to take the survey,” Gray said.

She hopes more than 500 people will complete the survey. The results should be posted on the CPSI website within a week, Gray said.

A survey has been offered to Imagine RIT visitors in recent years by CPSI students in an effort to gain data but also as learning exercises for the students. Previous surveys have asked opinions about body cameras for police, legalization for recreational marijuana use and whether the age should be raised from 16 to 18 for juveniles to be treated as adults in New York’s criminal justice system.

“Our students are gaining the skills to create, produce and conduct surveys that can be used to help make our communities better,” said CPSI Director John Klofas. “We hope people attending the Imagine RIT festival will take a moment to visit us and complete a survey.”