Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Andrew Milward

Second Advisor

Erik Reece


A small-town Appalachian deviant confronts the frequent, recurrent grief of the opioid crisis and its mortal, psychological, and communal consequences. This collection endeavors to explore substance use, addiction, geopolitical exploitation of Kentucky, central Appalachia, and surrounding areas, while also celebrating the lives of individual loved ones lost to deaths by suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism. Here, the common narrative of depravity surrounding addiction is challenged through the rendering of full characters capable of love, trust, friendship, humor, mental health management, and personal growth. Time and place factor fundamentally into the stories told here—whether based in central Kentucky or central Appalachia, these essays reflect their home soil, a region profoundly shaped by the opioid crisis that has ravaged communities for decades, a place that, of necessity, has led the way in implementing Narcan programs and special training for medical professionals confronting the use of powerful opioids like Fentanyl and Carfentanil, a powerful tranquilizing agent originally intended for use on massive animals like elephants. These essays aim to foster solidarity and community action—a rallying call for those waxing and waning when faced with profound grief.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Available for download on Tuesday, May 27, 2025