UMD Awarded $1 Million Grant to Help Rural Maryland with Opioid Crisis
University of Maryland Extension (UME) and School of Public Health faculty and partners were awarded a two-year, $1 million federal grant to help rural Maryland communities combat the opioid crisis.
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and will involve training 120 educators in the evidence-based program “Mental Health First Aid.” The curriculum will then be delivered to 500 community leaders.
Researchers will also collaborate with the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), MayaTech and Maryland Rural Health Association to deliver the curriculum to rural communities across Maryland.
Maryland ranks in the top five in the nation for opioid-related overdose deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Professors Jinhee Kim and Ghaffar Ali Hurtado are co-principal investigators on the Rural Opioid Technical Assistance (ROTA) grant and say their goal is to strengthen the understanding of the epidemic and implement prevention strategies.
“One of the things we noted while conducting a needs assessment was gaps in understanding the opioid crisis and available resources to help or get information,” Kim, a family and consumer sciences program leader with the University of Maryland Extension, told Cumberland Times-News.
“The misuse and opioid addiction is a national public health concern that kills over 130 people every day nationwide,” said Hurtado, an assistant professor of family science at the School of Public Health. “Our study team will collaborate with local partners that have the expertise and are trusted in the community.”
The team will create both an advisory group on Rural Maryland Opioid Issues and a virtual network comprised of UME educators, partners and local practitioners. Researchers hope to spread the curriculum throughout Maryland by providing trainings and webinars online for educators, practitioners, families and communities.
“Extension’s role is very important because we are a trusted source of health and wellness information within our communities,” Kim said in a PRWeb article. “Great work has been, and is being done in the opioid crisis here in Maryland, and we’re helping and supporting those programs by building out the capacity of rural Maryland for a comprehensive approach.”
Additionally, a proven prevention program, the Botvin LifeSkills curriculum, will be given to middle school children. Forty teachers will be trained in the program which is expected to teach 650 students about the dangers of substance abuse.