Newswise — One of the nation’s largest research projects aimed at measuring the outcomes of medication-assisted recovery (MAR) housing for opioid-use disorder will launch this spring, led by harm reduction specialists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) in partnership with the Health and Human Services Commission’s Texas Targeted Opioid Response Program (TTOR).

Project HOMES, funded by a $9 million contract from the TTOR program, provides housing for individuals participating in medication-assisted recovery.

The project will provide level II and level III certified recovery residences for individuals across Texas who are recovering from problematic opioid use and using MAR as part of their recovery plan. The study team aims to understand how outcomes vary among residents in MAR homes who have peer recovery coaches in comparison to those who do not have peer recovery coaches, and to those in non-MAR housing.

MAR helps to reduce withdrawal by curbing cravings in the brain linked to altered neurochemistry through the use of prescribed medications, along with counseling, to treat opioid use disorder. It has shown to be an effective treatment to aid in recovery and improve overall health and quality of life.

Recovery homes aim to provide a safe and supportive environment, which help individuals achieve and maintain recovery. Level II residences are monitored homes, with a house manager and peer run groups. A facility manager supervises level III residences, and the services in these homes typically include a life skills curriculum for residents.

In the past, many individuals participating in MAR have been restricted from utilizing recovery residences. Project HOMES will include 12 sites across Texas, including four in Houston, four in Austin, two in El Paso, one in San Angelo, and one in Midland. The residences in Houston will open in March, with the rest to follow in late spring.

“The data we gather from this study will ultimately help recovery providers with their quality assurance and improvement process. We want to better understand how having access to MAR and recovery housing impacts recovery capital, which is the number of resources a person has access to that help them find and maintain recovery. We hypothesize having both will result in longer recovery maintenance,” said Michael Wilkerson, PhD, the study’s co-principal investigator and an assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston.

The study will evaluate individuals in four categories: those men and women recovering from problematic opioid use living in a recovery residence but not using MAR, those using MAR and living in a recovery residence, community members utilizing MAR, and those in MAR also receiving external recovery coaching.

“Another goal of the study is to understand how the culture of each home, as well as the services provided and the camaraderie between the residents, impacts their outcomes,” said Sheryl A. McCurdy, PhD, co-principal investigator on the study and an associate professor at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston.

UTHealth will also collaborate with Texas Recovery Oriented Housing Network (TROHN), the Texas affiliate of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences, through RecoveryPeople, a nonprofit that seeks to provide accessible care for individuals and their families seeking recovery from substance use for this program, as well as a number of recovery residences and recovery coaching providers across Texas.

“Project HOMES is a vital resource for individuals participating in medication-assisted recovery and seeking a supportive housing environment,” said Jose Flores, HHSC recovery support services team lead. “UTHealth’s study will provide meaningful insight into the effectiveness of recovery residences for individuals with opioid use disorder who are participating in medication-assisted recovery.”