VHEOC | Virginia Higher Education Opioid Consortium

Opioids are the leading cause of accidental death in Virginia, and the opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in 2016. Since 2010, opioid connected deaths have increased nearly five-fold, devastating communities across America, claiming more lives than AIDS ever did at the height of the HIV crisis.

Virginia’s universities recognize that they have a responsibility and role to play in helping communities across Virginia respond to the opioid crisis by building a statewide team of higher education investigators committed to providing responsive, timely, data-driven support to enhance the effectiveness of local community health and social programs.

What is VHEOC and how does VHEOC work

VHEOC is a collaboration of five Virginia public universities (George Mason University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech) working together to support local Community Services Boards (CSBs) to prevent and treat opioid and other substance use disorders with cutting edge academic resources.

VHEOC’s mandate is to link cutting edge knowledge and resources from the university level with the work of CSBs (Community Services Boards) at the local level as part of the statewide response to the opioid crisis. In an integrated and proactive manner, the Consortium will offer university services such as research expertise, technical support, data collection and analysis to help CSBs shape and implement solutions for preventing and combating opioid and other substance use disorders.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) was awarded federal funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the State Opioid Response grant. The VHEOC projects are funded through this grant.

SAMSHA funding opportunity

The VHEOC can help CSBs (Community Services Boards) with any activity or program that is congruent with the scope of the State Opioid Response grant, current SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) funding priorities, and VDBHDS (Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services) guidance. This includes technical support for services in prevention, treatment and recovery, and identification, collection, and analysis of data to enhance decision making related to substance use disorders, including opioids.

CSBs: Ask for assistance now.

Image: VHEOC Proposal Process diagram.A CSB may request services from the VHEOC through a RFP (Request for Proposal). VHEOC coordinates with DBHDS to ensure the RFP is congruent with SORS funding guidelines. The Consortium then disseminates the RFP through their academic networks. Any number of researchers/faculty from the five universities in the Consortium might respond with two-page proposals tailored to address the CSB request (RFP). A VHEOC Review Committee assesses proposals for their responsiveness to the relevant RFP before forwarding proposals to the CSB. (The Review Committee composition varies according to the source of proposals, i.e. member universities do not participate in approving proposals that originate from their own universities.) The CSB selects the proposal team that best fits their needs. Refer to the Proposal Process Flowchart diagram for a visual depiction.

The RFP and proposal process phase culminates in CSBs choosing the proposal they feel best fits their needs. CSBs communicate their selections to the VHEOC Agent (University of Virginia) and UVA officially engages the selected project teams. Project implementation is set in motion and project teams communicate and coordinate directly with the local CSB’s designated project officer as needed. UVA administers the funds to pay university partners for the project services they provide and maintains oversight to ensure deliverables are achieved.

See more FAQs here.

Contact the VHEOC for more information