Opioid use in Southern Appalachia
Katharine Cammack has received funding from the Collaborative for her project titled: “Opioid use in Southern Appalachia: How drug education framing can be informed by local perceptions, attitudes and worldviews.”
Opioid analgesics (painkillers) are extremely effective and commonly prescribed medications for pain management but, as muopioid agonists, they also have high abuse liability and are able to induce rapid neurobiological tolerance.
These factors, in combination with ease of access and perceived safety, can contribute to escalating drug use and increased risk for dependence or addiction. While pain is one of the most common medical diagnoses in medicine, the number of active opioid prescriptions in Tennessee is one of the highest in the country. This project explores the psychosocial, cultural, and logistical factors contributing to opiate use amongst pain patients in rural Southern Appalachia. A combination of qualitative approaches, developed in consultation with FrameWorks Institute, and quantitative approaches, including a pilot study run out of local outpatient medical facilities, will be used to explore (a) patients’ perceptions and attitud es toward various approaches to pain management, (b) how patients think and make decisions about opioid use and other pain management approaches, with respect to their perceived choices, and (c) how patients frame issues related to pain, pain management, and opioid use. Ultimately, this project will help to identify opportunities and challenges related to pain management and drug use in our local community, and provide recommendations for framing drug education initiatives.