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NKU Expands Opioid Recovery Program in Rural Counties

Northern Kentucky University’s Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) launches the Carroll and Owen County Partnership Expansion (COPE), a strategic plan for addressing the opioid epidemic in rural Kentucky.

COPE is supported by a $750,000 federal grant NKU received in the spring to help reduce opioid overdoses for those who come in contact with law enforcement or are involved in the criminal justice system within high-risk rural communities.

Throughout the pandemic, overdose rates have nearly doubled across the Commonwealth, and over half of all arrests in Carroll and Owen counties are drug related. The university will begin implementing COPE over the next 18 months, with an emphasis on developing sustainable and metric-driven programs to enhance a lasting recovery from substance use.

“We are excited to come together collectively to assist individuals in a tangible way by getting them where they need to be to get the help they need,” said Dan Brenyo, COPE Executive Team member and Community Programs Administrator, Owen County Public Transit. “We heard loud and clear that this is a top need for individuals in our rural counties.”

The strategic plan includes forming an overdose fatality review team to work with regional partners and increase access for treatments and recovery programs. COPE will also support youth prevention and education programs in Carroll County Schools. A Care Coordinator and Reentry Specialist are being hired to help connect individuals with social services and recovery support in both counties.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Justice Institute, and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research awarded the funds to NKU.

Additional primary partners for COPE include Three Rivers District Health Department, Triad Health Systems, NorthKey Community Care, the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Owen County Emergency Medical Services, the Carrollton Police Department, the 15th District Court and the Department of Corrections Reentry Services.  

-Staff report

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