UTSA psychologist helps train first responders on the front line of the opioid crisis

James Bray, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Psychology, is working on a research project with agencies in Houston to train first responders in how to detect prescription opioid overdoses and provide life-saving outreach services.

Bray is working with the Houston Health Department, Houston Fire Department (HFD), Houston Recovery Center (HRC) and Baylor College of Medicine to teach first responders how to recognize overdoses and misuses of prescription pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl and how to properly administer naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.

“This project allows us to mobilize existing resources and expertise in Harris County and the City of Houston to not only train first responders how to administer the proper drug to save lives, but to provide outreach and treatment services for people who overdose on opioids through Houston Recovery Center’s peer recovery and case management services,” said Bray.

Bray explained that opioid addiction impacts millions of Americans from all demographics and this grant will provide opioid overdose victims treated by HFD with treatment services such as, medical assisted therapy, behavioral and psychological treatment and pain management.

The project called, First Responder Opioid Overdose Naloxone Training and Linkage Into Needed Evidence-based Services (FRONTLINES), is supported by a $2 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for four years.

According to the most recent data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 239 accidental poisoning deaths where opioids were involved in Houston in 2015 and 1,174 deaths statewide.

In addition to FRONTLINES, Bray is involved in another big research project in Houston. In 2017, Bray received a five-year, $2.6 million grant from SAMHSA to lead a project that provides mental health services and recovery support to high-risk pregnant, postpartum women recovering from substance abuse. The program, called Pregnant and Mothers Postpartum Enhanced Recovery-Oriented Residential Services (PAMPERRS) supplements services provided by Houston’s Santa Maria Hostel.

Bray joined the UTSA Department of Psychology in August 2017. His research interests include family psychology and health, adolescent substance use, and primary care psychology.


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