The United States is currently in a battle with a faceless enemy: opioids. Unfortunately, one of the hardest hit regions in this country is Appalachia, and Kentucky specifically. This independent research is a meta-analysis that covers the current state of the opioid crisis, how the crisis began, why Kentucky and the Appalachian region have been disproportionately affected, what Kentucky and the Appalachian region are doing to combat the crisis, and the rationale and significance of this information. The overwhelming majority of the ten highest opioid prescriptions rates per 100 persons in this country were in the southeastern region. The crisis began because of opioid prescriptions for non-cancer related pain, misinformation from and mismanagement by companies and government agencies, physicians being unaware of the addictive nature of opioids, and the lobbying and donation efforts from the pharmaceutical and health product industry. Kentucky has been disproportionally affected due to the high rural population, high rates of pre-existing conditions, less access to healthcare, high rate of poverty, Appalachian culture, distrust of mental health care, and blue-collar employment. To combat the crisis, Kentucky has issued opioid prescribing guidelines, created educational programs, passed Good Samaritan Laws, created medication assisted treatments, created naloxone training, created prescription drug monitoring programs, used the legal system to hold individuals and agencies accountable, and required pain clinics to register with the state. It is important to understand the unique aspects of Kentucky and the Appalachian Region to effectively combat this public health emergency.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 5-3-2021


Dr. Jerome May

Mentor Department Affiliation


Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level