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Collaborative Hub for

Emerging Adult Recovery Research

Advancing research

on recovery support services for opioid use disorder

About Us

The Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research (CHEARR) partners with communities impacted by the opioid epidemic to advance research on recovery support services for young adults (ages 16-25). We specifically focus on clinical continuing care models of recovery supports for young adults who take or who have taken medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder.


Clinical continuing care is an umbrella term for a wide range of recovery supports that can be offered in the same clinical setting where substance use treatment is offered. These services include mutual aid groups (AA/NA), formal counseling, recovery management checkups, peer recovery supports, and other services aimed at supporting ongoing recovery after an initial treatment episode. Although these types of recovery supports are available in many communities, very little high-quality research has been conducted on how effective they are, for whom they work best, and how to best deliver them.

Young adults have been particularly impacted by the opioid epidemic. Many young adults struggling with opioid use can benefit from medications for opioid use disorder, including methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone (Vivitrol). However, even young people who benefit from these medications may need additional support in their recovery. Some roadblocks to maintaining recovery may be specific to this age group. Given the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic, the time is now to focus our resources on understanding how to best support young adults in reaching long-term recovery from opioid use disorder.

Nothing About Us Without Us

Partnering with communities impacted by the opioid crisis is the cornerstone of CHEARR. An integral part of CHEARR is our two community boards which have a voice in every aspect of this project. The Young Adults in Recovery Community Board includes young adults who have lived experience taking medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder. The Peer Recovery Support Specialists Community Board includes certified peer recovery specialists and recovery coaches who have expertise working with young adults in recovery. We aim to gather a diversity of voices around the table towards the common goal of improving research on this crucial topic. We ascribe to “Nothing About Us Without Us” by ensuring that everything developed by CHEARR is done in direct partnership with the communities that have been impacted by the opioid epidemic.


Through our partnership between impacted community members, investigators, and practitioners, we aim to:

Goal Setting Concept


Identify priority areas for research under the broad umbrella of recovery supports for young adults in recovery from opioid use disorder, with a particular focus on clinical continuing care models and young adults who take medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder


Develop and disseminate resources to support high quality research on recovery supports for young adults


Train early career researchers to conduct rigorous research in the field of recovery supports, in partnership with impacted communities


Provide seed funding for innovative projects that will rapidly advance the science in this field

Our Approach

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Training Workshops

Through webinars and workshops, we offer trainings for researchers and practitioners.

Community Boards

Our work will be led by two Community Boards, made up of young adults in recovery and peer recovery specialists.

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Graduation to Workforce Concept

Postdoctoral Fellowship

We offer two-year Postdoctoral Fellowships that help launch research careers focused on young adults in recovery and/or recovery supports.

Student Internship Program

We offer internships for students interested in learning more about research on recovery supports.

Pilot Studies

We will be funding several pilot studies focused on recovery supports for emerging adults.

Our Team

Kristyn Zajac


Kristyn Zajac is a licensed clinical ​psychologist and Associate Professor at ​the University of Connecticut School of ​Medicine. She conducts clinical trials on ​behavioral interventions to improve ​treatment outcomes for youth with ​substance use and co-occurring ​problems. Her recent work focuses on ​the efficacy of peer recovery specialists ​in supporting young adults to meet their ​substance use treatment goals.

Lourah Kelly


Dr. Lourah Kelly completed her ​postdoctoral research at UConn School ​of Medicine and is now an Assistant ​Professor at UMass Chan Medical ​School in the Implementation Science ​and Practice Advances Research ​Center. As a psychologist and ​researcher, she is passionate about ​understanding what recovery supports ​work best for emerging adults with co-​occurring opioid use and mental health ​problems, particularly suicide risk.

Maryann Davis


Maryann Davis is a Professor of ​Psychiatry (Psychology), Director of ​the Implementation Science and ​Practice Advances Research Center, ​and Director of the Transitions to ​Adulthood Center for Research at the ​UMass Chan Medical School. She is a ​research psychologist focused on ​transition-age youth and young ​adults with serious mental health ​conditions and substance use ​disorders.

Angela Hagaman


Angela Hagaman, Operation’s Director ​for East Tennessee State University’s ​(ETSU) Addiction Science Center (ASC), ​provides leadership and support for the ​Center’s interdisciplinary research ​agenda and collaborates on a number of ​regional prevention and treatment ​initiatives. She has lived experience with ​familial substance use disorder (SUD) ​and grew up on a tobacco farm in ​Central Appalachia. In December of ​2021, Angela received her Doctorate of ​Public Health (DrPH) at ETSU. Her ​dissertation, titled Peer Recovery ​Support Specialists: Role Clarification ​and Fit Within the Recovery Eco-​Systems of Central Appalachia, will serve ​as a foundation for future research.

Phil Valentine


Phil Valentine, RCP, RCPF is the ​Executive Director of the Connecticut ​Community for Addiction Recovery ​(CCAR) serving this lead recovery ​community organization since 1999. An ​accomplished author, trainer, and ​presenter, Phil is recognized as ​spearheading the recovery coach ​movement and developing the CCAR ​Recovery Coach Academy. In 2015, Phil ​completed a thru-hike of the ​Appalachian Trail, a journey of 2,189 ​miles, carrying the message of recovery ​the entire way and recently released his ​book, Continue: Right Click on the ​Appalachian Trail.

Ashli Sheidow


Ashli researches services for teens and ​emerging adults, particularly those with ​substance use problems and legal ​system involvement. She also focuses on ​effective ways to get evidence-based ​practices into the “real world,” especially ​through improving training and support ​for providers. While she does not have ​direct lived experience, she has indirect ​lived experience with substance use ​problems throughout multiple ​generations of her extended family that ​began with opiate addiction from ​laudanum prescribed postpartum to her ​great-grandmother.

Eden Buell


Eden is a former intern for the JEAP ​initiative who recently received a ​Bachelor's in Science from the University ​of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Because of ​Eden's lived experiences with substance ​abuse and the justice system as a child, ​she is passionate about working with ​emerging adults with adverse ​experiences to identify what recovery ​capital means to them. Eden enjoys ​working with a multitude of diverse ​backgrounds to develop strategies that ​will aid in sustainable recovery support ​services. Eden's career goal is to work ​with individuals on both the macro and ​micro levels to promote, achieve, and ​sustain equity while striving to end ​stigma.

Sylvia White


Sylvia White holds a Bachelor of Science ​from the University of Connecticut and is ​currently pursuing a Master of Public ​Health at UConn Health. Her ​commitment to advancing recovery ​research is deeply rooted in her lived ​experience with a parent who struggled ​with opioid use disorder from his early ​adulthood. Additionally, during her ​undergraduate years, she volunteered ​for an addictive medicine outreach ​group. The profound impact of her lived ​experience has influenced her passion ​for the field personally, academically, ​and professionally.

Trisha Lausier


Trisha Lausier received a Bachelor of ​Arts in Psychology from the University of ​Connecticut. She has been a Clinical ​Research Assistant at UConn Health for ​the past 17 years, working on clinical ​trials involving people with substance ​use disorder. She has experience ​recruiting and engaging research ​participants. Trisha has an interest in ​emerging adults in recovery and ​understanding how they can best be ​supported through resources in their ​communities.

CHEARR Trainees

Jessica Flori


Jessica (Jess) Flori received her PhD in ​Clinical Psychology from the University ​of Central Florida and is a T32 Post-​Doctoral Fellow at UConn Health under ​the mentorship of Dr. Kristyn Zajac. Jess ​is passionate about understanding how ​substance use interventions work and ​how substance use behaviors are ​maintained. With her work, her goal is to ​improve substance use treatment for all ​individuals, especially those at risk for ​experiencing less positive outcomes.

Elizabeth Narwold


Elizabeth Narwold is a student at the ​University of Connecticut School of ​Medicine in the 2026 graduating class. ​She is committed to providing ​comprehensive and compassionate care ​for patients with substance use disorder. ​She hopes to work with CHEARR to ​advance the field of substance use ​research. Specifically, she plans to ​research patient-centered definitions of ​success in treatment.

Faria Tavacoli


Faria is an undergraduate student at the ​University of Nevada Las Vegas, ​completing a degree in public health. Her ​goal for the CHEARR internship was to ​learn more about community-based ​participatory research relevant to ​substance use disorders, while ​effectively communicating research ​findings with broader communities. One ​of her research tasks involved creating a ​systematic review of peer recovery ​support utilized for substance used ​disorders in young adults. In the future, ​she hopes to continue research that ​would aid health equity and increase ​patient care.


Aayaat Saiyed


Aayaat is an undergraduate student at ​the University of Connecticut completing ​her degree in Cognitive Science in May ​2024. Her goal for the CHEARR ​internship was to learn more about ​community-engaged research with ​communities affected by opioid use. One ​of her hands-on learning activities was ​to create helpful tip sheets geared ​towards young adults. In the future, she ​hopes to pursue dual degrees in ​medicine and public health.

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Community Boards

Our work is guided by two national community boards that identify research priorities related to recovery support services for young adults who take or who have taken medications for opioid use disorder. In addition to identifying research priorities, our Community Boards partner with CHEARR researchers to select candidates for research training opportunities, give input on which research studies should receive funding, design research assessments (e.g., surveys) of treatment outcomes that are relevant to young adults, and participate in sharing research findings with the broader community.

The boards are:

Young Adults in Recovery Community Board

Peer Recovery Support Specialist Community Board

This board is made up of young adults (ages 18-28) who are in recovery and have lived experience receiving treatment involving medications for opioid use disorder.

This board is made up of certified peer recovery specialists and recovery coaches who have experience working with young adults.

Peer Recovery Support Specialist Board

Claire Bonnell (Board Facilitator)


Claire Bonnell has worked for CSB of Middle Georgia for the ​last five years in peer support services. They are a person in ​recovery from Substance Use Challenges and living with ​Bipolar II. Claire currently works as the Peer Services ​Coordinator for the Child & Adolescent and Emerging Adults ​Programs. Previously, they were the Program Manager for ​the Emerging Adults Peer Drop-In Program. Their primary ​focus is to offer individuals hope and build connection ​through empowerment and relatability by utilizing their own ​story. Claire oversees CSBMG's Certified Peer Specialist-​Youths, Parents, MH's, and AD's as they provide support to ​others throughout the community. They offer CPS's insight ​and encouragement throughout their roles by utilizing ​Moderate Customized Care Coordination (MC3) and the ​PEARLS practice elements (designed by Pat Miles). Claire is ​passionate about serving the community by instilling hope in ​families and individuals to help them embrace their own life ​journeys. In 2023, Claire started their own business, The Art ​of Being: Health and Wholeness, to help create a safe, ​supportive environment for all within the community. Their ​mission is to motivate and empower people from all walks of ​life to feel valued, supported, and loved through physical ​stability, emotional wellbeing, spiritual growth and creating ​space for each person to be able to connect with their most ​authentic self from the inside out to help contribute to ​creating a brighter, more unified world. Claire is a loving ​partner and dog parent of Taz. They still have days where ​they are challenged, but enjoy living in the adventure of life ​they have found in recovery. Claire chooses everyday to ​offer light and love to others because of the gifts of life they ​have been given in the midst of overcoming challenges. ​"Embrace your most authentic self!"

Keith R. Elders, MPA


Keith R. Elders works for the Pennsylvania Peer ​Support Coalition (PaPSC) as their Grant and ​Project Coordinator and has worked as a Peer ​Based Professional in Pennsylvania for 12 years ​now. His unique lived experience as a youth and ​young adult with mental health and substance ​use conditions is what led him to pursue a career ​in this field and, since beginning this work, has ​truly found his passion for helping others in peer-​to-peer settings. Through his diligent work ethic, ​and application of peer-based principles in his ​own life, he went on to complete his bachelor’s ​degree in Human Development and Family ​Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and ​his Masters of Public Administration (with a focus ​on non-profit management) from Villanova ​University. Currently, Keith works alongside many ​peer-run/led organizations in assisting them in ​gaining a stronger share of the peer-based ​landscape in their regions. Keith strives to ​continue to empower the individuals and ​organizations he works with and support them in ​their goals through the embodiment of recovery ​principles, both through the projects he plays a ​part in, and in every area of his own personal ​recovery journey.

Elizabeth D Childress


Elizabeth is a dedicated Qualified Mental Health ​Professional (QMHP-A) and Registered Certified ​Peer Support Specialist in Virginia and ​Tennessee, currently serving as a Full-time Peer ​Support Specialist for the Virginia Partnership ​for Gaming and Health through Virginia ​Commonwealth University. Elizabeth holds a B.S. ​in Psychology from University of Virginia-Wise, a ​Clinical Addiction Counseling Graduate ​Certificate from East Tennessee State ​University, and is currently pursuing her Masters ​of Social Work at VCU.

She is also still contracted with her previous ​employer, East Tennessee State University's ​Addiction Science Center, serving on the Central ​Appalachian Peer Partnership (CAPP) board for ​the STARS project and serves as a board ​member for the Collaborative Hub for Emerging ​Adult Recovery Research (CHEARR). She has ​participated in many projects, including a ​documentary for the TN Department of Health ​"Forest for the Trees", and has a strong interest ​in research.

Vincent Batteast, Sr.


Vincent Batteast Sr. is a person in long-term ​recovery, living with co-occurring disorders. ​He is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist ​working as a Case Manager with vulnerable ​youth in Montgomery County, Maryland. He ​is also the Founder and Executive Recovery ​Coach for Peer Development Solutions, LLC ​where their vision is a worldwide community ​of individuals with lived experience helping ​one another to participate in changing their ​health and well-being, living self-directed ​lives, and striving to reach their full potential. ​Their mission is to provide education and ​training to everyone willing to participate in ​this movement to make this world a better ​place for all.

Dwayne Dean, RCPF, CPRS, RPS


Dwayne Dean is a Recovery Coach ​Professional Facilitator through the ​International Association for Recovery ​Coach Professionals. Dwayne is also a ​Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and a ​Registered Peer Supervisor through the ​Maryland Addictions and Behavioral ​Health Professional Certification Board. ​Dwayne is the founder of Peer Recovery ​Training and Support Services, where he ​is the Principal Facilitator and Lead ​Recovery Organizational Consultant.

To learn more and apply to either community board, please click the link below.

Compensation: $150 per meeting (if chosen to be a facilitator by your peers, $225 per meeting)

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

in Substance Use Recovery Support Services

The Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research (CHEARR) at the UConn Health School of Medicine offers ​a postdoctoral fellowship for those interested in a career conducting research on recovery support services for ​emerging adults with substance use disorders. The fellow works directly under the mentorship of Dr. Kristyn Zajac, with ​opportunities for external mentorship from researchers at Chestnut Health Systems and the University of ​Massachusetts Chan Medical School. Fellowships are 1-2 years depending on training needs.

Please check back in Fall 2024 for more information.

Upcoming Events

Multiple Pathways to Recovery Conference

August 13-15, 2024

Event hosted by Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR)

Omni Hotel New Haven, New Haven, CT


Stay tuned for more coming soon!

Contact Us


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The development of this website was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number R24DA057632. This funding is part of the NIH's Helping to End Addiction Long-term® (HEAL) Initiative. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

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Collaborative Hub for

Emerging Adult Recovery Research