SFA researchers, mental health providers partner to battle opioid crisis across East Texas

Opioid research for ‘the places left behind’
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:30 PM CST
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - SFA School of Social Work is looking into the opioid crisis in rural areas.

Researchers write the findings will help ‘the places left behind.’

The SFA School of Social Work is known for mobilizing communities. This time researchers focus on opioid addiction in Panola and Harrison counties and rural parts of Gregg County. They’re confident the findings will help all of East and Deep East Texas.

”What we’re experiencing in Panola and Harrison County is very similar to what we experience here in Deep East Texas,” said the study’s principal investigator, Kristin Bailey-Wallace.

In 2018, the average opioid prescribing rate was 84 per 100 persons in the rural target area, which is significantly higher than the Texas state rate of 47, and even the national rate of 51, according to SFA’s research.

“We are in an opioid crisis,” said Amanda Veasy.

Veasy sees addiction every day at One Love Longview, a counseling center she founded and directs. The center is one of 12 providers collaborating with SFA. They do great work alone but recognize when opioid addiction strikes so many small towns and communities, solutions require working together.

“Unfortunately, there are more people who are struggling with opioid use than there are resources,” said Veasy. “So we’re hoping if we can combine and increase those resources and be a stronger force together that we can really tackle this head-on.”

The consortium’s strategic and action plan calls for a collaboration when addressing the risk factors which lead to opioid use. They include homelessness and incarceration.

“So the hope is the community will continue to work, will continue this partnership so they can continue to address substance use. We’ve got to increase the dialogue,” said Bailey-Wallace.

SFA has applied for implementation funding. The wait begins while opioid addiction climbs across the region.

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