Name change ushers in new partnership opportunities and strategies for substance use prevention in Maryland.

October 31, 2022

An exciting new name change has been announced for a project run by the University of Maryland Extension (UME). Maryland Reinforcing Overdose Prevention through Training and Advocacy (ROPTA) will replace the name Maryland Rural Opioid Technical Assistance (ROTA), ushering in a new chapter of partnership opportunities and strategies for substance use prevention in Maryland. 

Started in 2019 as a University of Maryland Extension (UME) initiative in collaboration with regional and national partners, MarylandROTA was a product of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) ROTA initiative. The MarylandROTA project aimed to increase Maryland’s rural capacity to identify, respond to, and address opioid-related prevention and education needs through Extension research and outreach. The SAMHSA-funded MarylandROTA initiative has since offered 360 free trainings, reaching 1,112 youth and 7,364 adults from all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. 

Although a key component of this name change was the conclusion of SAMHSA grant funding, the MarylandROPTA team has enthusiastically embraced this rebranding as an opportunity to reemphasize the mission of the program: to provide advocacy, education, and support for communities working to counter the substance use and addiction epidemic. “Our new name reflects the breadth of our activities and reinforces our commitment to address the overdose crisis in Maryland,” states MarylandROPTA project team lead and Mental Health Specialist Dr. Alexander Chan, who is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. “By offering these trainings, ROPTA can equip Marylanders with the readiness to respond to the unique impact of the overdose crisis in their communities.” 

MarylandROPTA offers several no-cost, evidence-based programs and public outreach through a wide range of educational and academic materials. ROPTA strives to strengthen rural communities' capacity to combat the substance use and mental health crises affecting much of Maryland and the nation as a whole. MarylandROPTA offers both Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid, a global program which teaches how to recognize, respond, and provide resources for individuals experiencing a substance use or mental health crisis or non-crisis. ROPTA also offers several Overdose Lifeline programs including The Opioid Public Health Crisis, The Brain and the Disease of Addiction, Removing the Shame and Stigma of Substance Use Disorder, and Guide to Harm Reduction. These workshops help communities develop overdose prevention strategies that seek to address underlying problems, raise awareness, and develop crucial support networks. 

The ROPTA initiative also has a youth-centric approach, offering GenerationRX, This is Not About Drugs, and Botvin LifeSkills -- evidence-based programs which are adaptable and engaging for youth and young people. ROPTA can provide training on Stages of Change, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), Social Determinants of Health, and the Drug User Health Framework through the Regrounding Our Response training program developed by the Maryland Department of Health. ROPTA also offers train-the-trainer opportunities for Mental Health First Aid and Botvin Lifeskills training to further enhance community capacity. 

To schedule a free training or learn more about MarylandROPTA’s programs and services, email or visit Get updated about upcoming trainings by following MarylandROPTA on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and sign up for the newsletter by texting MDROPTA to 22828.