LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The team of majority African Americans is going around Lexington and Louisville wanting to hear from African Americans and their struggles with drug addiction.

A demographic they said can be hard to reach due to lack of representation within the study.

“We know opioid misuse has been a problem in the black community for well over a decade with very little attention understanding use in the community,” said Professor of Counseling Psychology Danelle Stevens-Watkins.

Black women leading groundbreaking research at the University of Kentucky to tackle issues on the drug opioid epidemic centered around African Americans.

“The research has not been there to really uncover how deeply impacted our communities are,” said Co-Investigator Candice Hargons.

According to experts, the first phase of the opioid epidemic was rising in 2010 with white Americans dying at rates twice of black Americans. Now, a decade later, overdose deaths surge but this time the black demographic faced the brunt of it.

“If you have discrimination, housing disparities, food disparities, and educational disparities all of these pieces come together and they let us know that we create in the United States a perfect storm for folks to overdose and for them to experience substance abuse disorders, and we get to be the solution and we get to be the medicine,” said Hargons.

A year into the study the team is asking for participation from black Americans who use opioids to open up about their drug use throughout Kentucky in order to bring change to the nations growing drug problem.

The team trying to find answers to questions about the gap in health, social, and economic outcomes among racial and ethnic minoritized communities.

“So that might be how neighborhoods are segregated and why how certain resources in neighborhoods might be impacting the things people are able to do as it relates to their treatments so if their are not certain treatment facilities in neighborhood there might need to,” said Hargons.

It doesn’t end there.

“We want to not only help to improve access to treatment but also to improve to use harm reduction strategy,” said Stevens-Watkins