A Commitment from our LeadershipJune 12, 2020
The leadership and staff of the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) understand how deeply intertwined and longstanding the crises of opioid use, racial inequality, and social injustice are in this country.
For Black Americans, our nation’s history of responses to substance use has been driven to a disturbingly significant degree by the criminal justice system rather than by health care.
FORE was founded in 2018 to identify and foster solutions to the nation’s opioid crisis. We fully recognize those solutions will not be successful without explicitly addressing the racial disparities in our systems of prevention, treatment, and recovery as well as the underlying forces fueling those disparities.
More specifically, while our understanding of and ability to treat opioid use disorder have progressed over the past decade, the benefits of this shift have not been made equally available to all who need it. Black Americans are much less likely than their white counterparts to receive treatment for their opioid use disorder, even though both groups are affected at similar rates; in 2016, fatal opioid overdoses among Black Americans were nearly double that of the general population.
From our very first meetings as a new organization, we established a working culture and principles of inclusion — of recognizing that the opioid crisis impacts different communities in different ways. As a national foundation, FORE is working to support solutions that can benefit every community, including: black, brown, and white; tribal, rural, and urban; gay, trans, and straight. Our most important contribution will be to continue to focus on the people at highest risk of being harmed due to their opioid use disorder. This is reflected in our first grants, which seek to expand access to opioid use disorder treatment and sustain access to recovery services during the COVID-19 pandemic for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.
The makeup of our board of directors, executive leadership, staff, advisors, and grantees also reflects our commitment to diversity and our practice of engaging everyone in finding solutions. We pledge to continue to deepen our understanding of inequalities and support contributions to policies and programs that create opportunities for those too often left behind, or worse, denied access to the basic right of good health and well-being.
Karen A. Scott, MD, MPH