Substance Abuse is not a problem unique to Appalachia, but it does affect Appalachians disproportionately. Recent studies show that counties in Central Appalachia with the highest overdose-death rates also have the lowest levels of educational attainment and the highest rates of people receiving disability benefits. A question that arises from this: what is it about this unique subset of the US that supports such an epidemic? One way to look at the problems is through the lens of cultural psychology; the study of how shared social norms affect behaviors and psychological processing. The hypothesis of this project is that if treatment and prevention programs incorporated the collectivistic culture of Appalachia, then individuals struggling with substance abuse would be more likely to seek out treatment and become proactive about prevention. A survey of 212 Eastern Kentucky University students yielded that these students are more likely to be prescribed and use tranquilizers, like the drug commonly known as Xanax, which coincides with preexisting literature about drug use trends of Appalachians. Future research should examine the effects of culturally-appropriate treatment and community outreach styles of treatment in Appalachian communities.
Semester/Year of Award
Dr. Melinda Moore
Department of Psychology
Restricted Access Thesis
Woods, Alissa, "A Cultural Psychology Approach to the Epidemic of Substance Abuse in Appalachia" (2018). Honors Theses. 573.