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New center to study rural, Midwest drug use earns $11.85 million grant

Posted at 9:22 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 22:22:05-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has earned a $11.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to put towards a research center studying drug addictions in the rural Midwest.

This five-year grant will support Nebraska's multidisciplinary Rural Drug Addiction Research Center, providing cutting-edge research for understanding the extent and means of rural addiction, developing treatment methods, and aiding in outreach efforts to reduce overdoses and addictions.

“The patterns of drug use addiction in the Midwest are so different from those on either coast or in Appalachia,” said center director Kirk Dombrowski, John Bruhn Professor of sociology. “This will be the only major research center in the country that focuses specifically on rural drug use in the Midwest.”

The Midwest is unique in that drug users in the area tend to take more than one type of drug, such as opioids, methamphetamine and alcohol--a pattern of polysubstance abuse that makes prevention and treatment more complicated, a press release from UNL says.

“Drug addiction has devastating effects and with the overdose rate increasing in this region — particularly in rural settings — our ability to conduct this research is critical,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “The University of Nebraska is uniquely positioned to lead the way in improving the health and well-being of so many in the Midwest and beyond by bringing together into the Rural Drug Addiction Research Center world-leading faculty from multiple disciplines and expert in-state collaborators.”

Although the overdose rate in the rest of the nation is staying the same or decreasing, it's rising in the Midwest. Dombrowski says the difference is partially due to the region's lack of treatment options.

“Better understanding the actual psychopathology and biochemistry of addiction can help us understand other kinds of treatment options that may be available,” Dombrowski said. “We can work to show the efficacy of these treatments and help convince through policy outreach.”