Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System (HEROES)

General Information

    The HEROES program is designed for individuals seeking long-term recovery from opioid use disorder. We provide the following set of clinical and behavioral services at no cost in our program.

    • Initial screening by a nurse practitioner
    • Physician appointment to discuss medication-assisted treatment options
    • Same day Rx where medically necessary*
    • Assistance setting up long term treatment
    • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counseling
    • Peer Recovery Coaching
    • Peer Facilitated Support Groups
    • Counselor Facilitated Educational Support Groups
    • Recovery tracking mobile app
    • Recognition for milestones in recovery

    *While the services provided by HEROES are provided free of charge, participants are required to pay for any prescriptions either with insurance or out of pocket.

    Participant eligibility includes adults over 18 years with history of prior opioid-related overdose or opioid use disorder. At this time, we are only able to assist English speaking patients.

    Houston sees one opioid related death every 32 hours as opioid related death rates continue to rise in Texas and across the country. Houston Police and Fire departments receive between 50-100 reports of opioid overdoses monthly, and of those about 1 of every 3 or 4 are fatal.

    The Emergency Medical System – either 911 or in the ER – is often the first point of care when persons living with opioid use disorder are in crisis. These moments are critical in providing treatment and recovery resources to patients seeking help. We aim to provide comprehensive services to keep patients in treatment and recovery. We help connect patients to ongoing medicated assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, peer recovery coaching, and support groups.

    The Houston ER Opioid System (HEROES) is a joint initiative between the McGovern Medical School and the School of Biomedical Informatics at University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. We aim to assist patients navigate the complex recovery journey by incorporating medical and behavioral support services for optimum engagement and retention in outpatient treatment. We currently have over 300 patients enrolled in our cohort.

    The purpose of this study is to identify the prevalence of opioid use disorder and opioid-related overdoses across Southeast Texas, and to develop a comprehensive care coordination system to improve retention of patients in long-term treatment. We will help patients engage in treatment, recovery, and follow-up to improve their chances of long-term recovery and improved quality of life. Our program involves novel medication in the emergency department, follow-up from licensed emergency medical technicians, outpatient medication-assisted treatment, and ongoing recovery coaching. Our program is funded by an award from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) targeted opioid response program.

    This comprehensive system of care involves participation with emergency physicians, psychiatrists, emergency medical technicians (EMT), licensed professional counselors, certified recovery specialists, pharmacists, police and fire departments.

    Some of our partners include:

    Houston Emergency Medicine Heroes Houston Emergency Opioid Engagement System
    Texas Health and Human Services Houston Recovery Center Houston Fire Department

    James Langabeer

    PhD, EdD, FACHE


    Dr. James Langabeer is Professor and program director for the Houston ER Opioid System. As a cognitive scientist interested in how people make choices. He focuses on addiction and emergency medicine. → read more

    Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer

    PhD, MBA, RD


    Assistant Professor Champagne-Langabeer focuses on the health policy and informatics components of the program. Her research on use of telemedicine and health information exchanges to improve public health. → read more

    Simone Lee Joannou, M.A


    Simone Joannou is our Administrative Analyst, providing novel insight into making our program run as smoothly and successfully as possible. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and her Master’s in Philosophy, focusing on Ethics in Mental Health Care.

    Andrea Yatsco


    Program Manager, Research Scientist, Counselor

    Andrea is the HEROES program manager and research scientist. She is an internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and a state Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Andrea has worked in corrections, human services, and as adjunct faculty teaching on topics of psychology, substance use, criminology, and criminal justice.

    Jessica Yaeger


    Peer Recovery Support Specialist

    Jessica is a National and State Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist. She is a Recovery Community Leader, Child Welfare Advocate, and has won numerous awards for her work with individuals who suffer from Opioid Use Disorder.

    Kimberly Chambers, MD

    Clinical Director, Physician

    Dr. Kimberly Chambers is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. She is an assistant professor of emergency medicine as well as a practicing physician at both Memorial Hermann Hospital and LBJ. Dr. Chambers is one of the first emergency physicians in Texas to receive approval for maintenance and detoxification treatment of opioid addiction in the ED.

    Samuel Prater, MD


    Dr. Samuel Prater is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. He is the Medical Director at Memorial Hermann Hospital TMC, and is an assistant professor of emergency medicine. Dr. Prater is also the interim co-chair of the department of emergency medicine at UTHealth McGovern Medical School.

    Anand Gourishankar, MBBS, MRCP


    Dr. Anand Gourishankar is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. He is associate professor of pediatrics at UTHealth and an attending physician at Memorial Hermann Hospital.

    Tom Fadial, MD


    Dr. Tom Fadial is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. Dr. Fadial is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, as well as the Educational Technology and Innovation Officer at the McGovern Medical School. → read more

    Samuel D. Luber, MD, MPH


    Dr. Samuel Luber is a consulting physician for the HEROES program. Dr. Luber is also Associate Professor, Vice-Chair Of Education And Academic Affairs, and Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education at McGovern Medical School. → read more

    Meredith O’Neal

    Research Team

    Meredith O’Neal is the HEROES Research Assistant, providing essential data collection and analysis for the program. She will be graduating with her MA in 2019.