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Innovations in Recovery through Infrastructure Support (IRIS) is a National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse funded initiative led by Principal Investigators, Drs. Jay Unick and Michelle Tuten from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) School of Social Work. 

IRIS is a four-year (2020-2024) NIH funded project which builds recovery research infrastructure through strong academic-community partnerships so that innovative, emerging and evidence-based practices can be developed and disseminated widely throughout the opioid drug treatment system.

IRIS logo

IRIS is one of five substance use projects funded at the same time by NIDA, a group which connected to form The Consortium on Addiction Recovery Science.

The IRIS Leadership Committee and the broader IRIS network are made up of partners in engaged in research, policy advocacy, training and technical assistance, clinical work, and other forms of service provision. 

IRIS Values

1. Trust and Collaboration

Our work is based on bidirectional, mutually beneficial learning and knowledge creation. Everyone is valued - our unity as partners collectively addressing the opioid epidemic is our greatest strength.

2. Person Centered and Community Focused

Recognizing the impact of stigma, we affirm the value of individuals affected by substance use. Our support of programs enhances the strong work being done by community partners.

3. Diversity and Inclusion

We continually develop a representative IRIS team dedicated to supporting organizations’ research on a wide breadth of evidence-based, emerging, and innovative approaches to opioid recovery and treatment.

4. Justice and Equity

We raise awareness on how social determinants of health contribute to the opioid crisis. We strive to ensure the vital work of small grassroots organizations is uplifted, and that people with lived experience guide our project

IRIS Priorities

1. Research Capacity Building

We support opioid recovery and treatment organizations to engage in community driven scientific inquiry through sustainable transfer of research skills and sharing of university resources.

2. Medications for Opioid Use

We support the expanded use and access of medication-based treatment (e.g., buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone) as an effective practice for opioid recovery.

3. Peer Recovery Support

We support person-centered and recovery-oriented approaches that uplift the role of peer-run organizations and peer delivered services.

4. Community-Academic Partnerships

We commit ourselves to developing strong and collaborative community-academic partnerships where research informs practice and practice informs research.

Core Activities

  • Training and Technical Assistance – Through workshops, webinars, consultation, and a research fellowship, we will build capacity around topics such as measuring what matters, community-engaged research, and post-treatment outcome evaluation 

  • Data Infrastructure and Research Capacity Building – We are committed to developing providers’ ability to collect and store data safely, and in a way which allows us to jointly develop standardized and proven treatments        

  • Vouchers and Pilot Projects  – To ensure providers have resources they need to achieve IRIS’s intended outcomes, we will offer financial support to build needed infrastructure, implement proven practices and test emerging strategies Our Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2021 cycle is closed. The outreach for the next funding cycle will begin January 2022

  • IRIS Learning Collaborative Conference  – During year four, our network will gather to present findings from IRIS internal research and external pilot projects, and discuss plans for sustaining this important work

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