Because northeastern Kentucky has been plagued by addiction and substance abuse for years, the purpose of the Coalition is to explore substance use disorder (particularly opioid use disorder) addiction, treatment options, and the recovery lifestyle (all within an 18-county service region).
In 2017, the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center (NE KY AHEC) began facilitating opioid-focused education for medical providers within northeastern Kentucky. These trainings were much needed because overdose rates within the Coalition’s service region were higher than state, Appalachian, and national averages. Because the problem was too large for any one organization to tackle on its own, and as the NE KY AHEC’s educational efforts increased, our Coalition was formed.
In 2018, we established the Northeast Kentucky Opioid Crisis Response Network as a part of a one-year, Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant. This group brought together five partners from across the region who had previously not worked together very much, if at all. It didn’t take us long to realize the benefits of bringing these entities together. Even outside of the work we were completing for the grant project, these connections turned into other collaborations outside of our Network, which otherwise wouldn’t have existed. Thus, in 2019, we were elated to receive a Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning Grant, because this meant our work could continue, but also that we could expand. This project established the Northeast Kentucky Opioid Crisis Response Consortium, and added four new partners, (and two existing from the Network) to the team. Even though these were two “separate” projects, the Network and the Coalition met together, monthly, and worked on both grants. Because of this, we decided to officially combine efforts in early 2019 to form the Northeast Kentucky Opioid Crisis Response Coalition.
Because the name was deemed too specific, in late 2019 it was changed once again to reflect the broader issues within the service region, and the Northeast Kentucky Substance Use Response Coalition as we know it today was born.
Organizing multiple community partners to work together, instead of functioning in silos, allowed for better coordination of services and reduced any duplication of effort. As the Coalition formalized (establishing bylaws and a Governing Board) its impact continued to grow.
To date, the Coalition has been awarded seven federal grant projects, which have brought more than $5.72 million worth of funding into the service region. More importantly, this funding has enabled the Coalition to facilitate meaningful projects, gather data, and establish much-needed interventions within local communities.
The Coalition’s 18-county service region includes: Bath, Carter, Clark, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Magoffin, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, Rowan, and Wolfe counties.
The Coalition’s goal is to create and put into place educational, clinical, and preventive interventions that directly impact the substance use crisis within its 18-county service region.
To read more about our members, Governing Board, or Coalition staff, use the links below.
In March 2021, our Coalition was selected as the national rural Health Association’s “Outstanding Rural Health Program”.
To view the full press release, click here.
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