FORE grants aim to help those struggling with OUD during pandemic
By William WagnerAugust 15, 2020
Keeping pace with the COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a daunting task for public health officials in the United States, but the grantmaking Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) is trying to do its part to move swiftly and effectively.
In late July, FORE awarded six grants totaling about $334,000 that are aimed at supporting people with opioid use disorder (OUD) during the pandemic. The grants were given to the Addiction Policy Forum; Ballad Health; the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics; RAND Corporation; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; and the University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Sciences at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).
Cumulatively, they are designed to (1) directly help people in recovery and (2) affect policy.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, FORE has strived to be as responsive and flexible as possible in supporting grantees and the larger community as they continue to provide lifesaving treatment for people with opioid use disorder,” Karen A. Scott, M.D., M.P.H., president of FORE, told TreatmentMagazine.com.
The impact of the pandemic will be felt for a significant amount of time. Whether it’s new treatment delivery models, virtual recovery activities or assessing the impact of temporary policy changes, it is important that innovative solutions that emerge from this pandemic are identified and spread to produce long-lasting improvements.”—Karen A. Scott, president of FORE
“We know these services are needed now more than ever. Early preliminary data has shown a surge in drug overdoses since the pandemic began, as traditional office-based treatment is disrupted and people are coping with job losses, anxiety and social isolation. During a time when we must be physically distant from each other, we must find innovative ways to engage people with opioid use disorder in evidence-based treatment and recovery.”
The overall mission of FORE, founded in 2018, is to combat the opioid crisis at the national, state and local levels. These latest grants are part of FORE’s sweeping effort to address what has become a crisis within a crisis.
“Before the onset of COVID-19, opioid use disorder was at unprecedented levels, with an estimated 130 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose. Now we’re looking at one crisis on top of another since evidence suggests that many of the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic are already leading to a rise in opioid overdoses and deaths,” Andrea Barthwell, M.D., chair of FORE’s board of directors, said in a press release. “These grants to leading organizations on the frontlines of the opioid crisis are aimed at breaking through many of the COVID-19-imposed barriers by providing solutions that make it easier to connect those seeking care to evidence-based recovery services.”
Just like pandemic itself, the foundation’s COVID-19 initiatives are open-ended. Scott says this merely is the first wave of relief.
“The impact of the pandemic will be felt for a significant amount of time, especially among those with opioid use disorder and those working to maintain a connection to treatment,” Scott said. “Whether it’s new treatment delivery models, virtual recovery activities or assessing the impact of temporary policy changes, it is important that innovative solutions that emerge from this pandemic are identified and spread to produce long-lasting improvements.
“We do anticipate additional funding in response to the pandemic over the coming months as we continue to speak with our grantees and network working on-the-ground and identifying areas of need. [But] grantmaking is just one part of our overall COVID-19 response initiative, which also includes webinars and resources on timely issues that are all available on our website.”