For the first time in the last decade, the number of overdose deaths in the United States fell from year-to-year between 2017 and 2018. Fewer Americans died from prescription opioids and heroin. However, overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids continued to increase, as did deaths among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.
Yet, the increase in deaths among underrepresented minorities (URMs) cannot be attributed solely to the increase in availability of opioids. Historic stereotyping continues to persist, be it unconscious or conscious, and these biases continue to affect treatment of people of color.
One of the primary factors affecting access to treatment for opioid use disorder among these populations is a lack of providers with the necessary cultural knowledge to effectively provide evidence-based treatment. To this end, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded a five-year grant to the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatrists in 2018. This grant funds the Recognizing and Eliminating disparities in Addiction through Culturally Informed Health Care (REACH) initiative.
The goals of the initiative are to:
(1) increase the number of addiction specialists adequately trained to work with racial and ethnic URM patients with substance use disorders, and
(2) increase the overall number of racial and ethnic URM addiction specialists in the Addiction Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine workforce
The REACH initiative is open to URM medical students, residents, PA students, and APRN/NP students who will be enrolled in their respective education programs in 2021. Applications will be accepted until July 15. For more information and to apply, visit the REACH initiative website. A one-pager and brochure are also available.