NSU MD Florida Blue Opioid Initiative Project

Early Prevention of Opioid and Substance Abuse

The 2022 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey showed that 23.9% of surveyed Florida students in grades 6 through 12 reported at least one use of any illicit drug in their lifetimes, while 12.3% reported use in the past 30 days. Grade-level findings for lifetime prevalence ranged from 13.6% in the 6th grade to 37.6% in the 12th grade. For lifetime use, female students reported a higher rate (27.3% versus 20.5%, respectively).

One of the strongest tools in the fight against the epidemic is the early prevention of opioid use.

The Florida Blue Foundation awarded the Department of Population Health Science at NSU MD a four-year grant to improve awareness and prevention of opioid and substance abuse in at-risk youth in South Florida.

Community Coalition Reaching Youth in South Florida

To create a targeted prevention program that considers the unique risk and protective factors of South Florida Youth, NSU MD founded the South Florida Community Coalition (SFCC) for the Prevention of Opioids and Substance Abuse in At-Risk Youth. This community coalition targets youth in the uniquely diverse South Florida tri-county region of Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties.

The coalition is led by the Nova Southeastern University College of Allopathic Medicine (NSU MD) in collaboration with the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship (NSU Business). The team is collaborating across the tri-state region with the following community partners:

  • Take Stock in Children
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Urban League
  • Pace Center for Girls
  • SunServe 

To learn more about the motivation for this project, read our editorial in the HCA Healthcare Journal of Medicine:  https://scholarlycommons.hcahealthcare.com/hcahealthcarejournal/vol2/iss2/1/

NSU MD Project Team

Arkene S. Levy, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

François Sainfort, Ph.D.


Michael Parker, Ph.D.


Timothy Page, Ph.D.



Dion Allen, Ph.D.

Project Coordinator


Peyton Buettner

Interm Project Coordinator


Saad Masud

Medical Student Researcher


Diti Patel

Medical Student Researcher


Luiza Palmieri Serrano

Medical Student Researcher


Solina Pierre

Medical Student Researcher


Cathaerina Appadoo

Medical Student Researcher


Emma Cowles

Medical Student Researcher


Emilee Tennen

Medical Student Researcher


Rohith Ganjam

Undergraduate Representative