Kentucky is nearing twice the national average in the rate of drug-related deaths per year and ranks as one of the bottom five states in almost every measure of health and poverty. During NKU’s 2015-2016 academic year, the issue of opioid addiction and the heroin crisis came into sharp focus with the visit of Sam Quinones to our campus. His book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, detailed the scourge of opioid addiction in the United States and spotlighted Northern Kentucky’s own struggle with the epidemic.
After Mr. Quinones’ visit, NKU drew on the strength of its passionate faculty and collaborated with other regional universities, governmental organizations and research and policy institutes to launch the Ohio River Valley Addition Research Consortium (ORVARC) in 2016. On November 10, 2017, NKU kicked off its academic year focus on health inequity with ORVARC’s first conference, which centered on evidence-based research in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). In attendance were researchers, advocates and policy-makers, all of whom discussed ways to address the growing addiction epidemic, specifically as it relates to NAS.