The Road to Recovery

In 2018, opioid use disorder killed 1,132 Missourians, a rate well above the national average. Communities statewide need access to providers who can help them deal with the problem. In response, health psychology chair Laura Schopp, MA ’91, PhD ’95, is using a new $1.2 million grant to expand an internship program that deals with the problem, particularly in underserved communities.

Opioid use disorder occurs in about 29 percent of patients who have been prescribed drugs for short-term pain relief but find it difficult to use them as intended, Schopp says. “Health psychology comes to this arena with great skills for improving treatment and access for people who are struggling.” 

The grant funds 21 doctoral students over three years. “We extend services at a number of places and get training in areas such as acute care, medical detox inpatient treatment facilities and outpatient treatment facilities,” says Eli Dapolonia, one of five interns who began their opioid treatment rotations in June 2020.

By partnering with community-based treatment centers sponsored by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, interns are applying their knowledge of pain and addiction research to real-world settings, Schopp says. The internship’s use of telehealth services, initially reserved for remote communities, plays an important role in delivering treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of MIZZOU alumni magazine.