Pills spilling out from a prescription bottle

Racial Disparity, Social Justice and Opioid Crisis Series of webinars offered this fall

Members of the community are invited to tune into the Racial Disparity, Social Justice and Opioid Crisis Series of webinars this fall. The series will begin Aug. 22 and run through November.

Co-hosted by CWRU School of Medicine and the CWRU Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, this webinar series brings together leading health care professionals, physicians, researchers, judges, social scientists, individuals with substance use disorders, criminal justice reform activists, policy experts, and diversity and inclusion advocates to address how the current opioid crisis is increasingly impacting communities of color, particularly Black Americans, who have been disproportionately stigmatized and incarcerated for substance use. It will showcase evidence-based research and data from diverse urban, state and national contexts with the goal of providing ideas and strategies for broad-spectrum policy change across institutions. 

The Webinar Series includes the following topics:  

  • “Examining Disparity Requires Action: Structural Racism, Healthcare Disparity and the Opioid Crisis” (Aug. 22)—This webinar will examine how American health care is impacted by structural racism, the resulting treatment disparities individuals of color experience for opioid use disorder and what social justice strategies we can employ to achieve equitable health care and substance use treatment for communities of color.
  • “Trauma, Mental Health and Substance Use” (Sept. 10)—This webinar will draw connections between the traumas of interpersonal and structural racism, mental health problems, and substance use disorders. It will provide models for trauma-informed care across a range of disciplines, including pediatrics, psychology, psychiatry and substance use treatment.
  • “Achieving Health Equity for Black Mothers and Infants” (Sept. 16)—Cuyahoga County has had one of the worst rates of infant mortality in the country for five decades. This keynote address will be on Black maternal and infant mortality followed by a panel of Black birth workers and community health experts from across the country discussing how we can achieve equity for Black mothers and infants.
  • “Substance Use, Stigma, and Incarceration”—While Black and Latinx individuals use drugs at the same rate as whites, they are six to 10 times as likely to be incarcerated for drug use. Learn how racism impacts prosecution, sentencing and access to treatment for minorities in the prison system.
  • “Epidemics of Inequities: COVID-19 and the Opioid Crisis”—The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the impact of structural racism on communities of color and their barriers to health care. The trauma and isolation of COVID-19 have resulted in a spike in opioid overdoses across the country. This discussion will be on the intersection of three public health crises: racism, the opioid epidemic and COVID-19.
  • “Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Health Care Disparity for the Black and Latinx Transgender Community”—Black and Latinx transgender individuals face some of the greatest health care disparities while at the same time suffering acutely from a range of social determinants of health. This roundtable discussion will focus on how organizations across Cuyahoga County are intervening to address Black and Latinx transgender health disparity.
  • “Where’s the Data: Mortality, Treatment Disparity and the Opioid Epidemic”—The national narrative of the opioid crisis is that it is primarily affecting white suburban and rural communities. In fact, Black and Latinx deaths from opioids are on the rise across the country and eclipse white deaths in several states. During this event, participants will examine data from across Ohio and the U.S. regarding mortality and treatment disparity.
  • “Overcoming Barriers to Treatment for Substance Use in Latinx and Native American Communities”—Learn how Latinx and Native American communities are being impacted by the opioid crisis and how their communities are responding with innovative, community-based solutions to substance use and its attendant traumas.
  • “Overcoming Stigma and Increasing Access”—Abstinence-only responses to substance use are prioritized in the United States despite the rise in the biomedical model of substance use disorder, which recognizes the value and necessity of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and other harm-reduction tactics. Learn about the specific challenges minority communities face regarding accessing harm reduction and MAT, and the policy reforms that can help. 
  • “Beyond Magic Bullets: White Race as a Social Determinant of the Opioid Crisis”—This keynote address will explore the contrast between American conceptions of white drug use as a biomedical problem requiring pharmacological intervention and minority drug use as a moral failing and societal danger that can only be addressed through incarceration. Learn about how neither model addresses the structural and systemic factors that lead to substance abuse and how community health initiatives are the way forward.
  • “Policy Change Across Institutions I: Achieving Healthcare Equity”—This event will feature a roundtable of local, national and international speakers addressing innovative, evidence-based ideas for policy change in healthcare aimed at creating equity more broadly and increasing access to effective substance use treatment specifically.
  • “Policy Change Across Institutions II: Prevention, Treatment and Diversion in the Cuyahoga County Criminal Justice System”—Join us for a roundtable of speakers implementing policy change to decrease incarceration and increase prevention and treatment for substance use disorders across the Cuyahoga County criminal justice system. 

Registration is free, but required. Visit the website to review the full agenda and access registration links. 

Questions? Email Ravenel Richardson at researchtorecovery@case.edu.