OSI-Baltimore’s Addiction and Health Equity Program seeks to generate and promote innovative ideas that improve health equity and increase access to high-quality behavioral health services, reduce negative stigma, and support community engagement to improve public health in Baltimore.
In 2018, we continued our work to leverage health care reforms to increase access to quality addiction treatment services, but shifted more of our funding to focus increasingly on harm reduction and supporting people directly impacted by substance use to advocate in their own voice. These funding streams supported peer recovery specialists and other individuals with lived experience with addiction or substance use to organize, access trainings and educational resources, and provide harm reduction-based street outreach to people actively using drugs across Baltimore City.
This year also marked the launch of our Advocacy and Leadership Training Program, a series of trainings across Maryland aimed at providing people directly impacted by addiction with the knowledge and tools needed to advocate in their own voices on self-identified policy concerns. In 2019, we will continue supporting a growing network of people directly impacted by drug use to be at the table helping to shape policy decisions that will affect their lives.
Still Empowering: Advocacy and Leadership Training
During the trainings, participants build relationships with trainers and other participants that will enable them to advocate for policies that respond to the needs of people most affected by addiction at the local, state,
and national levels.
Historically, there has been a disconnect between the people advocating for policies related to drug use, addiction, and treatment, and the people who were most affected by those policies. To remedy that, in 2018, OSI-Baltimore’s Addiction and Health Equity Program started holding Advocacy and Leadership Training programs for people with lived experience with addiction.
The two-day trainings are intended to help build the field of advocates around the state and increase the representation of people with lived experience with addiction in policy conversations. The first two trainings were held in Frederick and Easton, Maryland, and included sessions on the science of substance use and effective treatment, harm reduction, the history and ongoing effects of the War on Drugs, and basic advocacy tactics. OSI-Baltimore grantees from the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, the Legal Action Center, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, among others, led the sessions.
2018 Addiction and Health Equity Grants
Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition
$90,000 over one year to provide harm reduction programming, advocate for harm reduction policies, and reduce stigma relating to drug use
Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development
$150,000 over two years to enable its members, largely Black churches, to develop community leaders to advance harm reduction approaches to address the overdose crisis
Behavioral Health Leadership Institute
$100,000 over 18 months to support a mobile treatment van that provides buprenorphine, when appropriate, to individuals as they are released from the state-run Baltimore City jail
Behavioral Health System Baltimore
$100,000 over 18 months to provide harm reduction outreach, education, and advocacy training to individuals who use drugs and educate community members about the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies
$25,000 over one year to support its Freedom to Thrive Budget, which mobilizes Baltimore residents to advocate for the reallocation of city funding for policing to overdose prevention efforts, including harm reduction approaches
Consumer Health First
$175,000 over 18 months to provide general support
$10,000 over 18 months to build capacity by developing a strategic plan and a development plan
Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative Education Fund, Inc.
$150,000 over one year to support public education and mobilization activities aimed at creating a statewide drug cost commission in Maryland
The Maryland Peer Advisory Council
$75,000 over one year to identify and train new peer support specialists to become advocates for drug policy reform
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency-Maryland
$170,000 over one year to provide general support