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Removing Barriers to Recovery: Community Partnering for Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis

The project will evaluate an intervention designed to increase the availability of drug treatment through novel online tools that improve access to justice. Unresolved legal obligations frequently prevent substance users from entering into and sustaining drug treatment. Accordingly, access to justice enhances the availability of treatment opportunities and, potentially, post-treatment success. The access-to-justice intervention leverages UM-inspired software and an innovative community partnership between courts and nonprofits to help people resolve outstanding warrants and other legal issues easily without having to hire an attorney. To allow causal inference, the study will be conducted as a randomized controlled trial, making no-cost legal resources available to over 1,000 people over a two-year period, an approach that will better inform public policy and can be replicated nationwide. Through analysis of survey, interview, and court and agency data, the study will measure the effects of drug treatment and access to justice using a variety indicators, including ongoing substance use, family reunification, residential mobility, housing, income, employment, arrests, health, and mortality. The goal of the project is to better understand the barriers to long-term recovery from addiction and how collaboration between existing public and private actors can improve lives and local economies in a cost-effective manner.

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