In November 2021, modelers who attended the panel, “Engaging People with Lived Experience: Best Practices” co-hosted by the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV (CHERISH) and the University of California, San Diego, learned that models commonly make assumptions that do not reflect how people who use drugs live their lives. Oftentimes, models are also designed to address questions that are less relevant to people who use drugs. To prevent drug-related deaths, modelers and other researchers must collaborate with people with living experience to identify and implement effective solutions.
More recently we heard from experts working on the front lines of substance use research and advocacy about how to design and conduct research in collaboration with people with lived experience. In May 2022, Drug Policy Alliance, Urban Survivors Union, and the Network of Drug Researchers with Lived Experience co-hosted a four-part online series, “Beyond Participatory-Based Research,” to encourage researchers to push the boundaries of how research is typically conceptualized and think critically about the relationships we have with people who use drugs. The series also provided tools to authentically partner with people impacted by the drug war in every phase of the research process.