NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared opioid use a public health emergency in 2017. To help continue to combat this crisis, Stephen F. Austin State University’s (SFASU) School of Social Work has partnered with the Texas Health Institute (THI) on a project that focuses on rural communities.

The purpose of the collaboration is to respond to Health Resources & Services Administration’s (HSRA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning (RCORP). Their goal is to strengthen and expand the capacity of rural communities to engage high risk populations and improve opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services.

SFA’s research project focuses on Panola County, Harrison County and rural areas of Gregg County specifically. According to THI, the initiative involves a regional gap analysis and community action plan to address prevention, treatment and recovery from opioid and methamphetamine misuse in the targeted rural community.

The project will take part in several core planning activities including conducting a community needs assessment and gap analysis, developing a strategic plan and accompanying action plan and creating a community-led multi-sector consortium to address opioid use disorder and methamphetamine use disorder.

This collaboration ensures that THI has a trusted local partner in the community while they work regionally.