Arkansas Behavioral Health Integration Network has been awarded a $1,000,000 grant through the Health Resources and Services Agency (Grant  # GA1RH42872) to support The Arkansas Rural Opioid Use Team Education (A-ROUTE) project. The purpose of the A-ROUTE project is to connect and support a broad network of community partners, state agencies, peer support specialists, and healthcare teams in a comprehensive program focused on educating rural communities, de-stigmatizing opioid use disorders, linking scarce critical resources, and providing high-quality services that ultimately eliminate overdose deaths.

The grant will benefit nine counties in North Central and Southwest Arkansas that are economically depressed, have a high prevalence of opioid use disorders (OUD), and have few services to identify or help people who are in recovery or seeking treatment. These conditions have resulted in a “treatment desert” where prevention, treatment, and recovery management for patients falls largely on primary care providers and their care teams, many of whom lack the resources and training necessary to help clients with OUD.

A-ROUTE activities will be anchored in primary care as a means of reaching the target population and building sustainable community capacity to address OUD.  The 3-year project will focus on increasing primary care coordination with treatment providers and non-clinical services; educating providers and the community on prevention, recovery, and treatment strategies; targeting stigma across multiple sectors; promoting the use of Medication for OUD (MOUD); increasing access to peer recovery specialists and recovery communities; increasing access to naloxone and harm reduction services; and integrating behavioral health and peer recovery specialists with rural healthcare teams.