Dr. Julia Felton

Michigan State University and the University of Maryland College Park are working side-by-side to address health equity in opioid use disorder treatment. Dr. Julia Felton will co-lead a $550,000 grant from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts.

July 28, 2020

The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE), a private, national organization focused on contributing sustainable and scalable solutions to the opioid crisis, is providing a grant for more than $550,000 to Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Maryland College Park to improve access to opioid use disorder treatment for uninsured, low-income, and Black/African-American adults in Detroit and Baltimore. Black/African-Americans have much lower rates of opioid use disorder treatment due to a range of barriers, as documented in a 2020 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The grant to MSU, in partnership with the University of Maryland College Park, is part of a nationwide FORE initiative to improve access to lifesaving treatment for opioid use disorder, a need that has become more urgent as COVID-19 presents barriers to care in many communities and more people are at risk for overdose.

This project is focused on training peer recovery coaches to promote retention and adherence to medications for opioid use disorder among low-income, Black/African-American adults.

"We are pleased to partner with FORE to examine a novel approach to engaging and retaining individuals from underserved communities who require treatment for opioid use disorder,” said Julia Felton, PhD, Assistant Professor and Clinical Psychologist, Michigan State Division of Public Health, College of Human Medicine. “This funding supports critical research to develop a sustainable model for training peer recovery coaches to improve outcomes and promote the recovery process among this vulnerable population." 

People experiencing opioid use disorder often have a difficult time maintaining a recovery routine. A large part of the recovery process is building social connections and support.

“Peers play a unique role in the recovery process. They can help establish trust, reduce stigma and social isolation, which is absolutely crucial, especially right now in the context of COVID-19, said Jessica Magidson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland College Park. We need more resources to support peers nationwide and we hope this project will help in that effort.”

“Now more than ever it is important to address racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare and ensure access to care for people who are most at risk,” said Karen A. Scott, M.D., M.P.H., President of FORE. This program is patient-centered, innovative and evidence-based. It is also a strong example of an innovative approach for improving health equity in opioid use disorder treatment for populations at high risk of overdose.”