Dr. José Szapocznik Appointed to Prestigious Council on Opioid Response

The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) has appointed José Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor and chair emeritus of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, to its Scientific Advisory Council.

“FORE is a relatively new foundation focused on accelerating action to end the opioid crisis, dedicated to advancing patient-centered, innovative, evidence-based solutions,” said Dr. Szapocznik. “I am honored to have been appointed as a member of its Scientific Advisory Council, bringing a commitment and expertise to the welfare of children and families affected by the opioid crisis.”

FORE was launched in 2018 with the broad goal of supporting solutions to the opioid crisis. As a national grant-making foundation, it has focused its first two program areas on improving access to opioid use disorder treatment for underserved populations and responding to the COVID-19 national public health emergency by funding recovery support services and policy analysis research.

“I thank Dr. Szapocznik for his willingness to share his time and expertise with FORE as we build on our work to support the most effective patient-centered, evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis,” said Karen A. Scott, M.D., M.P.H., president of FORE. “We began our program planning in 2019 by convening diverse groups of experts from around the country for program advisory meetings, and awarded our first grants throughout 2020, supporting projects to improve access to treatment and recovery services. The Advisory Council will work with us towards our goal of impactful grant-making.”

Dr. Szapocznik stressed that opioid use disorder is a family disease because it impacts all members of the family, such as the parents of youth involved in opioids, as well as their spouses, romantic partners and children.

“How best to support these families, how best to intervene with families to prevent opioid and other drug use, and how best to involve families in encouraging persons with opioid use disorder to enter, remain in, and complete treatment, are critical questions,” said Dr. Szapocznik. “If properly addressed, it can greatly increase the effectiveness of our interventions to individuals, families, and communities, and to end the epidemic as a whole.”

Dr. Szapocznik also said that it is important to realize that no epidemic has ended merely by treating cases.

“The key to ending epidemics is in preventing new cases, and in this regard, interventions targeting at-risk adolescents and their families are critical because opioid and other drug use usually begin in adolescence,” he said.

Dr. Scott emphasized that establishing an ongoing national Scientific Advisory Council is FORE’s next step in order to engage national expertise as they build their programs.

“We firmly believe in a well-informed process and developing partnerships, rather than working in isolation, will lead to the foundation having an impact,” Dr. Scott said.

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on January 19, 2021