Author Area of Expertise
Health Disparities; Rural Social Work; Maternal & Child Health
Introduction: The consequences of increasing opioid misuse in the U.S. over the last two decades have been severe, contributing to hundreds of thousands of lives lost and heavy tolls on individuals, families, and society. The Appalachian Region has been hit particularly hard, with its predominantly rural landscape seeing disproportionate increases in opioid misuse and overdoses. These cases have been difficult to address due to poor treatment access and capacity constraints in many areas of Appalachia.
Purpose: The current study focuses on evaluating The Kentucky Access to Recovery Program (KATR), which provides services to individuals recovering from opioid addiction residing in several counties in Eastern Kentucky. Its purpose is to understand the impact of KATR on service recipients’ access to recovery services and supports.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 service recipients, three service providers, and four vendors of support services related to housing, transportation, medical/dental care, employment, and childcare. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Themes related to individual-level impacts were identified and discussed, including behavioral changes related to recovery, physical and mental health improvements, relationship repair, regaining custody of children, provision of needed supports, and ability to gain employment and improve finances. Study findings showed that KATR had meaningful impacts on the lives of service recipients by helping meet needs and reducing barriers to their ongoing recovery.
Implications: Through its use of vouchers for support services and basic-needs provision, KATR demonstrates a potentially effective strategy for increasing access to health-related social services for persons in recovery in predominantly rural areas.
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Jones AE, Walters JE, Brown AR. Over the hills and through the hollers: how one program is assisting residents of Appalachia with opioid use recovery. J Appalach Health 2022;4(3):71–86. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0403.05.