The Substance Use Policy Evaluation and Research (SUPER) workgroup is an interdisciplinary, interinstitutional research team of faculty and students led by Barbara “Basia” Andraka-Christou. The research team employs qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches to address complex research questions about health services and policies in the justice system. Much of their work explores use of medications for opioid use disorder and the problem-solving court setting.

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Our Team

The Substance Use Policy Evaluation and Research Workgroup includes interdisciplinary faculty and graduate students with expertise in substance use disorder health services and policy, mental health services, qualitative methods, quantitative methods and mixed methods. Our goal is to help organizations (for example, government agencies, judges, court staff and clients) use evidence-based practices for substance use disorder treatment, including for opioid use disorder.
Contact the Substance Use Policy Evaluation and Research Workgroup at

Current Projects

Moud Decision-Making (JRIG)
We are funded by a grant from the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN), a National Institutes of Health HEAL Initiative, to accomplish two aims: 1) to describe courts’ case-by-case decision-making processes regarding medications for opioid use disorder; and 2) to identify factors involved in court team decisions about medications for opioid use disorder. This is a sequential exploratory mixed methods project, with data collection starting in April 2022. Our project is informed by Lipsky’s street-level bureaucracy framework.

Selected Presentations

Identifying MOUD Decision-Making Factors in Criminal Problem-Solving Courts
Oral presentation at: Annual Association for Public Policy Analysis & management; November 17, 2022; Washington D.C.

Court staff perceptions of “trustworthy” Providers of medications for opioid use disorder annual conference
Oral presentation at: Annual Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health; April 6, 2022; Hollywood, FL.

Examining MOUD Decision-Making Factors in Problem-Solving Courts.
Virtual presentation at: JCOIN Steering Committee Meeting; National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. April 20, 2022.

Evaluation of the Florida Opioid Initiative

Our workgroup has been the primary research arm for the Florida Courts Opioid Initiative, led by the Office of the State Courts Administrator. We have conducted statewide surveys of court staff beliefs, social norms, perceptions of self-efficacy and policies related to medications for opioid use disorder. The research approach is based on the theory of reasoned action and planned behavior. We have also examined the relationship between training about medications for opioid use disorder and beliefs.

Drug Court Evaluation
We are evaluating a three-year, $1.5 million grant funded by the Bureau of Justice Administration and awarded to the Florida Office of the State Courts Administrator. The project evaluation involves examining the implementation process, implementation outcomes, and health service outcomes of evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, parenting engagement interventions, and cultural competency practices in five family dependency drug courts across the state of Florida. Our research is guided by the Exploration, Preparation, Implementation & Sustainment (EPIS) Framework and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention standards for program evaluation.

Peer Reviewed Publications

Barriers to medications for opioid use disorder in the court system: provider availability, provider “trustworthiness” and cost.
Authors: Fatema Ahmed , Barbara Andraka-Christou, MH Clark, Rachel Totaram, Danielle Atkins , Brandon del Pozo.
Source: Health Justice. 2022;10(24). doi:10.1186/s40352-022-00188-4

Working Papers

Family dependency drug court service modifications and court experiences during COVID-19.
Authors: Rachel Totaram, Fatema Ahmed, Barbara Andraka-Christou, Yara Asi, and Danielle Atkins

Selected Presentations

Implementation of peer support specialists in Florida family dependency drug courts.
Oral presentation at: 16th Annual Academuc Health and Policy Conference on Correctional Health; April 13, 2023; Raleigh NC.

Family dependency drug court service modifications during COVID-19.
Poster presented at: American Society of Addiction Medicine annual conference; April 1, 2022; Hollywood, FL.

Barriers and Facilitators of Implementation of Evidence-based Practices in Five Florida Family Dependency Drug Courts.
Poster presented at: UCF Annual Public Administration Research Conference; March 21, 2021; Orlando, FL

Family dependency drug court service modifications during COVID-19.
Invited virtual presentation to the Florida Supreme Court Office of the State Courts Administrator; March 24, 2022.

Virtual Court Services
Through a collaboration with Wayne State University, we sought to understand court staff perceptions of virtual versus in-person court services using surveys. Specific aims include comparing perceptions of client attendance and engagement in virtual hearings versus in-person hearings.

Designing Interactive Education about Medication for Opioid Use Disorder for Judges and Court Staff

In collaboration with the Office of the State Courts Administrator and software vendor Enfoglobe LLC, our research team has assisted with the design of educational modules about medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), targeting judges and court staff in Florida. These modules offer a variety of interactive quizzes, animations, and videos, as well as information and resources to assist and engage judges, court staff and stakeholders in the field.

Access to the portal with interactive tools is freely available to Florida judges, court staff, and interested stakeholders.

Overdose Trends
In collaboration with Wayne State University, we are examining trends in opioid-involved deaths, as well as racial disparities in overdose calls to emergency medical services.

Working Papers

Buprenorphine involvement in opioid overdose deaths: A retrospective analysis of postmortem toxicology in Marion County, Indiana, 2015-2021. Authors: Brandon del Pozo, Danielle, Atkins, Barbara Andraka-Christou, Rachel Wightman, MH Clark, Philip Huynh, and Bradley Ray Source: Drug & Alcohol Dependence Reports. 2022; 6; 100131

Court Medical Marijuana Policies
Our JCOIN LEAP Investigator funded project will use a sequential exploratory mixed method study to examine Florida dependency court staff policies and attitudes toward medical marijuana.

Police Projects
We are examining attitudes of police toward harm reduction measures, as well as barriers to police-initiated treatment referrals for opioid use disorder, with an emphasis on evidence-based alternatives to arrest.

Peer Reviewed Articles

Police Discretion in Encounters with People Who Use Drugs: Operationalizing the Theory of Planned Behavior
Authors: Brandon del Pozo, Emily Sightes, Jeremiah Goulka, Brad Ray, Claire A. Wood, Saad Siddiqui, and Leo A. Beletsky.
Source: Harm Reduction Journal. 2021; 18(132).

Selected Presentations

Innovation and Reform in Substance Use, Law Enforcement, and Policing.
Oral presentation at: Texas Substance Use Symposium; March 24, 2022; Corpus Christi, TX

SUPER Symposium

The first annual symposium hosted by the Substance Use Policy Evaluation and Research (SUPER) team will be held in-person on February 8, 2024 on the Downtown UCF campus (Orlando, Florida). This conference will focus on substance use disorder and mental health disorder policy and health services. The symposium will take an interdisciplinary approach, with research presentations and workshops related to the justice system, counseling, public affairs, anthropology, and other contexts.

We invite researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, health care professionals, and members of the community to attend.

This all-day symposium will include a keynote speaker, three research-focused workshops, oral presentations, lunch, a poster presentation, and a reception.

Please email SUPER with any questions at
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